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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

A Cheerful, Fit Yeltsin Turns 71

Itar-TassThe Yeltsins and Putins raising a toast at Yeltsin's Barvikha residence as they celebrate the former president's birthday Friday.
Boris Yeltsin, looking fit and cheerful in a light blue suit, welcomed a stream of politicians and well-known personalities to his Barvikha residence for his 71st birthday Friday.

"It was probably for the first time that he received even us [his family] dressed in a suit and tie, his hair cut, looking so festive," Yeltsin's wife, Naina, said on RTR television. "We complimented him and told him he looked younger."

State-owned RTR -- apparently the only channel admitted to the residence outside Moscow -- showed President Vladimir Putin and his wife, Lyudmila, raising toasts with the Yeltsins around a coffee table.

Russian Orthodox Church Patriarch Alexy II said he came in keeping with a tradition by which he and Yeltsin exchange birthday visits every year.

RTR showed a number of Yeltsin's old colleagues presenting him with flowers and kissing him on both cheeks, including former Defense Minister Pavel Grachev, former Interior Minister Viktor Yerin, former Federation Council head Viktor Shumeiko and Sverdlovsk region Governor Eduard Rossel. Yeltsin was born in the Sverdlovsk region and was the head of the region's Communist Party Committee for 11 years.

In addition to Putin and his wife, Putin's spokesman Alexei Gromov and aide Sergei Yastrzhembsky were among the current Kremlin officials who came by to congratulate the former president.

Russian Tennis Federation president Shamil Tarpishchev, Yeltsin's tennis coach and former sports minister, dropped in with top tennis player Yevgeny Kafelnikov to present Yeltsin with a set of new tennis gear. Yeltsin greeted Tarpishchev with a warm bearhug.

RTR did not show Yeltsin himself making any remarks during the birthday festivities.

Last year, Yeltsin spent his birthday in the hospital. He had checked in a few days earlier with a high fever.

Presidents Leonid Kuchma of Ukraine and Askar Akayev of Kyrgyzstan spoke to Yeltsin by telephone, Interfax reported.