Yeltsin calls for national reconciliation

President Boris Yeltsin, in a speech marking the 80th anniversary of the 1917 Bolshevik revolution, called yesterday for reconciliation and forgiveness among Russians.

"We are able not only to oppose each other but also to find an accord," Mr Yeltsin said on television.

"We can at last do away with divisions of the Russians into `us' and `them'. Not only to quarrel and accuse but also to search for compromise."

Mr Yeltsin said there had been two truths about the revolution. One was that it helped turn Russia into a superpower which won in the Second World War and pioneered space exploration. The other was that the revolution was followed by a bitter civil war and had then unleashed "political fanaticism", he said in a clear reference to Stalin's purges in which millions died.

The President said he had ordered the construction of a monument to those killed on both sides in the civil war.

Mr Yeltsin has renamed the 7 November holiday, formerly known as Revolution Day, as the Day of Reconciliation and Accord. He said he had opposed appeals to scrap the holiday.

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