MoonDawg's Den: R.I.P., Boris

MoonDawg's Den

Monday, April 23, 2007

R.I.P., Boris

I've just heard the news that Russian ex-president Boris Yeltsin has passed away at the age of 76. I'll never forget watching CNN in the summer of 1991 as he stood atop a Soviet tank in front of the Russian parliament, shouting his defiance against the Communist apparatchiks who launched a coup against the government of Mikhail Gorbachev, putting Gorbachev under arrest and filling Moscow with troops and armor.

Yeltsin was far from perfect; he was bombastic, corrupt (but no worse than other Russian leaders), and a drunkard. He might have done a better job leading Russia during the dissolution of the Soviet Union and the bitter transition from Communism to economic reform, although I'm not sure that anyone else could have done much better if they were handed the basket case economy of the former USSR to fix.

For me, my lasting memory of Yeltsin will always be the scene atop the tank during the '91 coup. The man was far from perfect, but this one moment of personal courage helped transform a nation forever.



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