Here are excerpts from Russian President Boris Yeltsin's address yesterday to Congress. The transcript was prepared by the Associated Press.
It is indeed a great honor for me to address the Congress of the great land of freedom as the first ever, over 1,000 years of history of Russia, popularly-elected president, as a citizen of the great country which has made its choice in favor of liberty and democracy.
For many years our two nations were the two poles, the two opposites. That affected the destinies of the world in a most tragic way. The world was shaken by the storms of confrontation. It was close to exploding, close to perishing beyond salvation.
That evil scenario is becoming a thing of the past. Reason begins to triumph over madness. We have left behind the period when America and Russia looked at each other through gun sights, ready to pull the trigger at any time.
Tomorrow will be a day of peace, a day less of fear and more of hope for the happiness of our children.
The world can sigh in relief. The idol of communism, which spread everywhere social strife, animosity and unparalleled brutality, which instilled fear in humanity, has collapsed. It has collapsed never to rise again.
I am here to assure you we shall not let it rise again in our land. I am proud that the people of Russia have found strength to shake off the crushing burden of the totalitarian system. I am proud that I am addressing you on behalf of the great people whose dignity is restored. I admire ordinary Russian men and women who, in spite of severe trials, have preserved their intellectual integrity and are enduring tremendous hardships for the sake of the revival of their country.
Russia has made its final choice in favor of a civilized way of life, common sense, and universal human heritage. I am convinced that our people will reach that goal.
There is no people on this earth who could be harmed by the air of freedom. There are no exceptions to that rule.
Liberty will not be fooled. There can be no coexistence between democracy and the totalitarian state system. There can be no coexistence between market economy and powers who control everything and everyone. There can be no coexistence between a civic society, which is pluralist by definition, and communist intolerance to dissent. The experience of the past decades has taught us communism has no human face. Freedom and communism are incompatible.
For us, the ominous lesson of the past is relevant today as never before. It was precisely in a devastated country, with an economy in near paralysis, that Bolshevism succeeded in building a totalitarian regime, creating a gigantic war machine and an insatiable military industrial complex. This must not be allowed to happen again.
That is why economic and political reforms are the primary task for Russia today. We are facing the challenges that no one has ever faced before at any one time.
We must carry through unprecedented reforms in the economy that over these seven decades has been stripped of all market infrastructure; lay the foundations for democracy and restore the rule of law in the country that for scores of years was poisoned with social strife and political oppression; guarantee domestic, social, and political stability, as well as maintenance of civil peace. We have no right to fail in this most difficult endeavor for there will be no second try as in sports.
Our predecessors have used them all up. The reforms must succeed.
Today I am telling you what I tell my fellow countrymen: I will not go back on the reforms. And it is practically impossible to topple Yeltsin in Russia. I am in good health and I will not say ''uncle'' before I make the reforms irreversible.
Yesterday we concluded an unprecedented agreement on cutting down strategic offensive arsenals. They will be reduced radically in two phases, not by 30 or 40 percent as negotiated previously over 15 years. They will be slashed to less than one-third of today's strength from 21,000 nuclear warheads on both sides down to 6,000, 7,000 by the year 2000. And it has taken us only five months to negotiate.
We have simply no right to miss this unique opportunity, the moreso that nuclear arms and the future of the Russian reforms designed to make impossible any restoration of the totalitarian dictatorship in Russia are so dramatically interrelated.
I am here to say that we have the firm determination and the political will to move forward. We have proved that by what we have done. It is Russia that has put an end to the imperial policies and was the first to recognize the independence of the Baltic republics.
Russia is a founding member of the Commonwealth of Independent States, which has averted uncontrolled disintegration of the former empire and the threat of a general inter-ethnic blood bath. Russia has granted tangible powers to its autonomous republics. The Treaty of Federation has been signed and our nation has escaped the fate of the Soviet Union. Russia has preserved its unity.