Boris Yeltsin (1931-2007)

by Mike on April 23, 2007

in Politics,Russia

Boris Yeltsin, the first President of post-Soviet Russia, died today at the age of 76. Known to many as the father of Russian democracy, Yeltsin is best remembered for his bold and courageous leadership against hard line Communists during a coup attempt while the Soviet Union was on the threshold of that ash heap Ronald Reagan spoke of.

As the first President of a democratic Russia, Yeltsin faced a difficult task. With its long tradition of tsars and Communist dictators, democracy was a foreign concept to Russia when Yeltsin assumed power. At times, Yeltsin used heavy-handed tactics to accomplish what he thought was necessary to preserve his country’s new democracy. He did indeed centralize power, but ultimately allowed free and fair elections, including one in 1996 where the outcome was far from certain. Boris Yeltsin helped change the face of Russia and the world is better off for it.

Yeltsin will be remembered as a giant in Russian history. May he rest in peace.

Reuters photo

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Ryan April 23, 2007 at 5:02 pm

Communists were even allowed to vote in those elections too! That’s a big gamble which shows us what a real stand-up guy Yeltsin could be. I think that Russia’s chaotic decade came as a result of people so upset with communism, yet so unfamiliar with freedom and it’s economic system (capitalism!) that mistakes were made in the speed at which the transition took place.

Just like after our revolution the rich stayed rich and the powerful found ways to make things work. Also, in Russia a well-organized mafia and underground economy took hold even into the Putin years, forcing Putin to nationalize some industries more than the system would have liked, increasing his penchant for using power. Could Yeltsin’s Russian Revolution be eating itself up like so many revolutions do? Look at Putin and Mike’s previous post on him! Whatever the answer, Yeltsin’s contribution cannot be overlooked, and unlike Gorby, Yeltsin did not make himself a nuisance after his moment in history had passed.


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