Moscow: Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday paid rich tribute to Nelson Mandela, comparing the colossus of 20th century politics to Mahatma Gandhi and Soviet dissident Alexander Solzhenitsyn.
Mandela "is undoubtedly one of the outstanding world figures in the 20th and 21st centuries, and his magnitude compares to that of Mahatma Gandhi and Alexander Solzhenitsyn," Putin told reporters here.
He hailed Mandela as a "great humanist of the 21st century" and said his policy should become an example to follow. "Courageous and wise, Nelson Mandela always fought consistently for his convictions but remained a great humanist and pacemaker. This approach is needed in today's world: the search for compromises is the best basis for consensus and cooperation," the Russian President wrote in the condolence book at the South African embassy here.
After signing the book, Putin bowed his head in front of Mandela's portrait and offered condolences to South African Ambassador Mandisi Mpahlwa.
In his message of condolences earlier, Putin had said that Mandela's name was inextricably linked with a whole era in Africa's modern history that ended with the victory over apartheid and the establishment of a democratic Republic of South Africa.
The President noted that Mandela traversed great hardships and trials, but remained true to the noble ideals of humanism and justice right to the end. Mandela "was a friend of our people," Russia's ITAR-TASS news agency quoted Putin as saying to Mpahlwa.
Mandela, South Africa's first black president who steered his nation out of apartheid and into multi-race democracy, died late on Thursday at the age of 95 after protracted illness.
Putin compared Mandela to both Gandhi and Solzhenitsyn. Mandela has often been dubbed as the 'Gandhi of South Africa', and had strong Indian connections and striking similarities with India's 'Father of Nation'.
Solzhenitsyn was an eminent Russian novelist, historian, and tireless critic of Communist totalitarianism. He helped to raise global awareness of the Soviet Union's forced labour camp system....