Related topics


June 17, 1992

Precede MOUNT VERNON Mrs. Yeltsin Pleads For Help For Russia’s Children With AM-Summit Rdp, Bjt

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Naina Yeltsin made an emotional plea Wednesday for Americans to send medical help to Russia’s sick children, promising it ″won’t be wasted.″

The normally reticent wife of the Russian president delivered her appeal at the National Press Club near the end of a two-day whirl of summit ceremonies and sight-seeing.

″We have many disabled children and they desperately need medical care,″ Mrs. Yeltsin told 200 people who had gathered to support a new American project to care for disabled and orphaned children in the former Soviet republics.

″Unfortunately, back in Russia right now we are unable to provide them with this care,″ she said.

The needs go beyond caring for the children sickened by the nuclear disaster at Chernobyl, she said. Children need medicine, clothes and, most of all, medical equipment and facilities to treat their ailments.

Mrs. Yeltsin, 60, a retired construction engineer who has kept a low profile at home, said, ″You know Russia is a big country with a population of more than 150 million people.″

Speaking without notes through an interpreter, she said, ″We are grateful for all the help that we get from other countries of the world, and we do know that we shouldn’t ask for more - but we would love to get your help.″

″We would like to reassure you that the help we get won’t be wasted,″ she promised. ″We deliver it right to our children.″

Mrs. Yeltsin spoke at a reception organized by Frank Associates-Child Assistance International, which is launching a $3 million drive to establish a comprehensive child care center in Moscow for orphans and children with disabilities. It also arranges adoptions.

When Mrs. Yeltsin finished speaking, 3-year-old Marina Mayes - a Russian child adopted just two months ago by a Upper Marlboro, Md., couple - toddled forward with a bouquet of flowers.

Mrs. Yeltsin hugged the child and returned the flowers to her.

Earlier, she attended a luncheon hosted by Barbara Bush at Mount Vernon, George Washington’s mansion, where the VIP visitor got both a glimpse of U.S. history and a reminder of her own humble past.

A curator pointed out a small table on which George and Martha Washington ate breakfast on their wedding day.

It prompted Mrs. Bush to remark, ″I read in the paper that when you were married, you didn’t have a table.″

Boris Yeltsin’s wife confirmed that was the case.

″They were lucky,″ Mrs. Bush said of the Washingtons.

A day earlier, Mrs. Bush had taken the Russian president’s wife to a soup kitchen to make bologna sandwiches for Washington’s homeless.

But on this sunny afternoon, they dined in splendor with 63 other women at Washington’s columned home with its majestic view of the Potomac River.

″Despite the fact that Washington is such a beautiful city, I have been captured foremost by the people,″ Mrs. Yeltsin told a reporter.

Asked what she would remember most, Mrs. Yeltsin said, ″Everything I have seen I have memorized ... It is impossible to say any one thing.″

Mrs. Yeltsin said she would like Mrs. Bush ″to see Russia when it’s warm.″

″Oh, good,″ replied Mrs. Bush with enthusiasm.

The luncheon guests included Marilyn Quayle, Cabinet and congressional wives, socialites, businesswomen, television personality Barbara Walters and Mrs. Bush’s soon-to-be-married daughter, Dorothy LeBlond, and daughter-in-law Margaret Bush.

The two first ladies greeted one another with kisses on both cheeks and strolled hand-in-hand into the mansion that Washington’s father built in 1735.

Inside the mansion that draws 1 million tourists a year, they saw the key to the Bastille that Lafayette sent Washington two centuries ago and other antiques.

Update hourly