North Korean leader Kim Jong Un offered his sympathy following the death of Dmitry Yazov, former marshal of the Soviet Union, according to Pyongyang's state media. File Photo by KCNA/UPI | License Photo
Feb. 27 (UPI) -- North Korean leader Kim Jong Un offered condolences to the family of a former Soviet defense minister who attempted a coup in 1991, following reports of his death earlier this week.
Pyongyang's state-controlled news agency KCNA reported Thursday Kim offered a "message of sympathy to the bereaved" family of Dmitry Yazov, the last appointed marshal of the Soviet Union.
"I express my deepest condolences after hearing of the sad news our close comrade and friend, military general of the Soviet Union Comrade Dmitry Timofeyevich Yazov died after a long illness," Kim said in his letter, according to KCNA.
Kim praised Yazov, an opponent of perestroika, for "participating in wars for the Soviet fatherland against the German invaders" and described the former Soviet marshal as a true patriot and war veteran.
"Comrade Yazov's heart may have stopped beating, but his achievements will remain in the memories of the Russian and North Korean peoples."
Yazov was born in 1924 and enlisted in the Red Army in 1941 at the age of 17, according to the Moscow Times. He was 95 at the time of his death on Tuesday.
In 1991, Yazov attempted to stage a coup against Mikhail Gorbachev. He was imprisoned for 18 months until granted amnesty by Russian President Boris Yeltsin.
North Korea may have supported the coup attempt at the time, according to South Korean news agency Yonhap. Kim's father, Kim Jong Il, criticized Russian reforms at the time as the "scheme of imperialists."
Kim Jong Un never met Yazov. In 2014, on the occasion of Yazov's 90th birthday, the North Korean leader sent a congratulatory letter and a flower basket to Moscow. Former North Korean Defense Minister Hyon Yong Chol delivered the presents to the Russians at the time.
Hyon was executed in 2015, according to Seoul's spy agency.