Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Boris Yeltsin RIP

Boris Yeltsin was the man who thought what was, in Russia of 1991, the unthinkable; he believed Russia could be a democracy and for a short time he was right. He also introduced a very different quality to Russian politics, an authenticity and emotionalism that had only briefly been seen during the Khrushchev years. There were, in my opinion, two pivotal moments in his career. The first and most momentous was his decision to threaten the hardliners with the force that they may well have been tempted to use against the Russian people but no longer had the power to give the orders. However he also contained the situation, positioning himself as the man with the power in the new Russian democracy.
His second moment was the softer side of a man who liked a good time. Playing the spoons and dancing on stage. This is often documented alongside Clinton's saxophone playing and the many other attempts by politicians to seek attachments to celebrities and popular culture. However it can also be read as trying to make a connection, showing the more human side of the politician. It did him no harm, that's for sure. Whatever his legacy will be, and Russia remains in flux, he is partially the architect of the nation's future and the fact that freedom now is greater, despite the inequalities and hints of totalitarianism, he should be applauded.


Adam Abu Nab said...

He tried his best to stand up to the people now eventually taking over in Putin etc...his biggest vice was alcohol, a big factor in his poor health. R.I.P

Dmitri Molodev said...

Spasibo Boris, a true Russian in every way - brave, emotional as Darren says, a good drinker as Adam says - these are only flaws in the west. In Russia you must drink, it is socialbe and to be drunk is not a bad thing, it makes you human, normal - dig the picture why wasnt this here last night????

Darren G. Lilleker said...

Hi Adam, good to hear from you! Keep it up.

Dmitri, if Yeltsin was the archetypal, authentic Russian, how come his successor was such a contrasting character? He seems, through the lens of the western media obviously, as rather unemotional, dispassionate, the KGB stereotype. Are we fed a stereotype or are Russian's voting against type?

Chris Giddings said...

It's interesting that the more human side of a politician is applauded, essential in connecting with the public. This is now being taken to further lengths in the West - It's all David Cameron seems to be doing at the moment.

Yeltsin, as you rightly said Darren, changed Russia's political landscape, a very noble move, unthinkable at the time.

Darren G. Lilleker said...

You're right Chris, I guess the difference between Clinton, Yeltsin, even Blair in 1997 and Cameron is there seems a lack of clarity over what he stands for. We can look back on Yeltsin as making a brave move for Russia, as well as showing his human side, Cameron may offer a "voice of change, optimism and hope for the long-term future of our country" (camapign flyer received today) but what is the "modern, compassionate Conservative Party" offering? How will it differ from the social liberalism of Labour, or is it Blairism with a new face qand a greenish tinge. I think you need both the substance as well as the personality to be an inspiring leader or potential leader. I dont see it yet!!!