Boris Yeltsin marked his 75th birthday today, with more than 200 guests expected to honour Russia's first post-Soviet president at an evening Kremlin gala.
Several one-time world leaders were among those slated to attend the celebrations, including former US President Bill Clinton and, according to Russian media, former German Chancellor Helmut Kohl.
Some six years after he stepped down abruptly and handed the reins to Putin - a former KGB chief – Yeltsin has maintained a quiet retirement, appearing occasionally at sports tournaments and civic celebrations, but largely steering clear of politics.
Many Russians blame Yeltsin for the post-Soviet economic meltdown that led to a dramatic plunge in living standards.
In excerpts from an interview broadcast on state-run television, Yeltsin acknowledged that his tenure as president was far from untroubled.
“The main achievement is that the Bolshevik, totalitarian, Communist system was broken,” Yeltsin said.