Vladimir Kara-Murza, writing on World Affairs Journal:
This week Russia marked the 80th anniversary of the birth of Boris Yeltsin, the country’s first democratically elected leader. The occasion was accorded official status. President Dmitri Medvedev, unveiling a ten-meter marble statue of his predecessor in Yekaterinburg, declared that “Russia should be grateful to President Yeltsin” and praised his “strength of character.” In Moscow, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin promised the audience at a stately remembrance evening in Bolshoi Theatre to “continue along Yeltsin’s path, to transform Russia into a strong and free country where human rights are fully protected.” Exhibitions dedicated to the former president opened in Moscow, Kazan, and Yekaterinburg. Tatarstan is hosting the 2011 Yeltsin Cup international junior tennis tournament. This year will see the unveiling of the Yeltsin Presidential Center and Library, built with a 3 billion ruble (US $102 million) grant from the federal budget.
It is hard to imagine a more hypocritical way to honor Russia’s first president. For Boris Yeltsin’s legacy is not statues or libraries or tennis tournaments. It was the imperfect but very real Russian democracy that he helped create and sustained, despite the odds, for nearly a decade. His legacy was in the robust free media, the quarrelsome Parliament, the hard-fought elections (often won by his opponents), the wide regional autonomy — everything that he left on December 31, 1999, as he drove away from the Kremlin for the last time. Today all of it lies in ruins, meticulously dismantled by a former KGB colonel presented as “Yeltsin’s successor” — but in fact his political opposite. Behind Vladimir Putin’s phony praise of Russia’s first president lies a deep contempt for everything he represented, from the constitutional freedoms that Mr. Putin turned into a dead letter, to Mikhail Glinka’s “Patriotic Song” — the national anthem of democratic Russia that Mr. Putin replaced with Stalin’s “Bolshevik party anthem” in one of his first acts in office. And there can hardly be a better illustration of the true attitude toward Boris Yeltsin than the sight of his deputy prime minister and favored successor, Boris Nemtsov, being locked up in prison for participating in a peaceful opposition rally.
Mr. Yeltsin rarely spoke out during the last years of his life in Vladimir Putin’s Russia. Perhaps, as former Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov has suggested, he was a “prisoner in a golden cage,” compelled to silence by the new regime. Or maybe, as Mr. Yeltsin’s former chief of staff, Valentin Yumashev, asserted this week, he preferred to convey his discontent to Mr. Putin in private. In any case, there is no doubt that Mr. Yeltsin was upset by Russia’s backsliding. Three times he broke the silence, protesting against the restored Stalinist anthem, defending the independent TV-6 channel as it was about to be shut down, and criticizing Mr. Putin’s decision to abolish gubernatorial elections.
As Soviet dissident Vladimir Bukovsky has observed, for all his mistakes and shortcomings President Yeltsin will be remembered for two unquestionable achievements: it was he who banned the Soviet Communist Party and dissolved the USSR. One day, the first president will be honored without hypocrisy in a Russia he wanted to see, “a free and proud country,” as he said in his last state-of-the-nation address. Boris Yeltsin’s name will live in Russia’s history long after the names of her present-day autocratic kinglets had been forgotten.
Really, Russian democracy ended in 1993. Yeltsin was a criminal. Too. He was a thief, he was a war criminal. And Lt.Col. (not a full colonel) Putin worked in his presidential administration, before he became his FSB chief, prime minister, hand-picked presidential candidate.
Yeltsin might have been a hero in 1991. Before he became a criminal (national traitor, war criminal), Vidkun Quisling was a humanitarian worker (active also in Russia – famine relief in the 1920s, saving many lives). So what? That’s not how he’s remembered.
Definitely Yeltsin was not a Russian version of Thomas Jefferson, no questions about it. But he tolerated dissent, the press was free, he did not send his adversaries to jail, and he did not engage in white-washing Stalinism. You have to give him credit for that, and then compare with the actions of the current Paramount Leader for Life. A very stark contrast, isn’t it?
For once, you’re correct; albeit unintentionally so. No, not even an utter low-life scum such as Yeltsin can compare to your “great” President Thomas Jefferson. Boris Yeltsin was no slave-owner, and those who suffered most horribly under his rule were his own people, whereas Jefferson simply continued US land-grabbing and genocide in the name of “Manifest Destiny”. But still, Yeltsin deserves no credit whatsoever. He should have been shot dead just like each amd every USian.
LOL, well floppy, at the time of Jefferson Russian leaders were slave owners, and Russia committed far worse genocides in its drive eastward and southwards during the expansion of the 19th century (the worst 19th C genocide is considered by historians to have been the Circassian genocide) and having been a communist Yeltsin was responsible for holding the people of eastern Europe in slavery to the USSR, the fact that Russia ended up being too weak to hold on to its empire is a different matter to voluntarily freeing them.
Of course, the people who suffered most horribly under Yeltsin were not his own people, they were the Chechens, Ingush, and the Georgian populations of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.
“As Soviet dissident Vladimir Bukovsky has observed, for all his mistakes and shortcomings President Yeltsin will be remembered for two unquestionable achievements: it was he who banned the Soviet Communist Party and dissolved the USSR.”
Let’s not be modest. Yeltsin will be remembered for much more than that. For example:
1. Stealing all oil, gas, diamonds, aluminium and all other natural resources form the people of Russia and giving them all to his daughters and their buddies.
2. Turning TV networks into Goebbels-like propaganda machines to badmouth his electoral opponents.
3. Increasing corruption by a factor of at least 1000.
4. Starting the Chechen wars.
5. Destroying science and education
6. Hand-picking Putin for President
7. Destroying the economy
8. Taking the Russian Federation to the bring of collapse and a global Civil War
Actually Maimonides, if you want the truth, it was the quite natural dislike/hatred of Russian imperialism that has dragged the Russian Federation into civil war.
Yeltsin did not increase corruption by 1000%, Soviet Russia was incredibly corrupt, to the point that it collapsed like a tooth rotting from within due in large part to the failure of what passed for its economy.
Obviously being a child, you are not old enough to remember the queues of people lining up for bread in the late 70’s and early 80’s, and the fact that people had to queue for everything.
Meanwhile, your communist idols such as Andropov, Brezhnev, etc lived in luxury.
Corruption has however massively increased under your idol Putin, and is far above that experienced under the government of Yeltsin.
As for Turning TV networks into Goebbels-like propaganda machines to badmouth his electoral opponents well, it seems you are not connected to reality in that regard, Yeltsin was regularly pilloried by Russian media, whereas your idol Putin is the one who has reinstated Kremlin control over the TV stations of Russia, turning them into neo-fascist propaganda mouthpieces of the state.
I concede that Yeltsin was no messiah and much of what you are saying is true, at least to some extent. Still, item No.6 on your list must be very pleasing to you, is it not?
So, if Yeltsin was so bad, why was he elected and re-elected? Who is responsible for that?
Why would item 6 be pleasing to me? While Putin is not nearly as destructive for Russia as Yeltsin was, he is a man who is hindering Russia’s progress into a mature European-style democracy. Wouldn’t you agree, RV?
Russian culture is what is hindering Russia’s development as a “mature European style democracy”, as long as Russians continue to be racist xenophobes thinking they have the right to occupy the lands of multiple ethnic groups, dictate to their “near abroad” about who they can and cannot elect, support separatist groups (many from populations they planted on other peoples lands) and commit ethnic cleansing, Russia will never be anything remotely resembling a “Mature European style democracy”
Of course, the charming Russian tradition of killing anyone with honor or morals over the last 300 years means that we are left with people like you Ostap.
I absolutely agree, but I am surprised to hear this from you. I was under impression that you were a rabid supporter of the Russian regime. At least some of your previous writings indicate that. Perhaps, you are not who I thought you were.
Well, you are probably confusing me with somebody else and/or misinterpreting my position. While I am quite positive on Russia’s foreign policies, I hate Putin’s crackdown on freedoms and democracies, and his toleration of utter corruption (from which he and his buddies greatly benefit themselves) both in the economic, the administrative, and the judicial sectors. My main beef with L-R is her hatred towards the Russian culture and the Russian people, especially female tennis players, actors, food, etc.
Why then, pray tell, don’t you ever actually criticize Putin any any specific respect? Isn’t that rather odd?
If you actually read our blog, you’d know we have made it perfectly clear that our “hatred” of Russians is entirely based on their absolute failure to take any action to protect the freedom and democracy that you admit Putin and his cronies are stripping away. We hate them because they are destroying their children’s future. And we criticize their claimed achievements because they are illusory, propaganda churned out by their government in an attempt to justify their loss of freedom and democracy.
Think and read a little more carefully and you might get somewhere in life.
Is that why you make fun of Russian food, Russian actors, Russian tennis players, and the looks of Russian women?
Exactly! Russians think their food, women and tennis players are unusually good. They are not. They think so because of the propaganda and lies of their government and their insulation from the real world. Nobody in the outside world thinks so. They’re average or below average in all three categories. It’s time for Russians to face the truth and stop lying to themselves about these and many other facts.
In other words, you think that if the Russians stopped loving their women and taking pride in them, that would bring democracy to Russia?
Actually it would be better if Russian men stopped raping, beating, and killing their women. Russia has an appalling record of violence against women.
So you are a supporter of ethnic cleansing Maimoneedes/Ostap/VOR/Michael Tal/Arthur/RTR, nice of you to admit that you support a government that engages in ethnic cleansing, mass murder, the support of Islamist regimes, the support of military dictatorships across the world, including Sudan and Burma, which routinely massacre hundreds of thousands of people.
You really are rotten to the core.
Yeltsin was elected because people saw him as the main opposition to the Soviet leadership. He was re-elected in 1996 because he gave all Russian natural resources to the oligarchs in exchange for them financing his re-election campaign. Also, the three main TV networks – ORT, RTR and NTV – conducted a Goebbels-style campaign that portrayed Yeltsin’s opponent as being worse than Stalin. Amazingly, just a couple of months before the elections, Yeltsin’s approval rating was below 2%, but the money and the TV propaganda campaigns worked wonders. There were also voting irregularities, of course.
Hi Arthur/RTR/Ostap/Voice/Michal Tal/Maimonides/Mainoneedes, have you been banned for lying again!?!!!?!?, when will you ever learn?
Well, whatever the reason was, there were elections, and in the final analysis people are responsible for who they elect, deceived or not.
Then Putin too was legitimately elected, RV. But he wouldn’t have been my choice. Maybe Medvedev, maybe Kozak, but not Putin.
Read our blog a little more and you’ll find Putin was not legitimately elected. Russian bloggers exposes the shameful rigging of his elections and showed he is nothing but a fraud.
The quote below merits SERIOUS attention, for a change:
>> Behind Vladimir Putin’s phony praise of Russia’s first president lies a deep contempt for everything he represented >>
Hopefully, our little phobe is 100% right in this (preposterous) judgement. But, all the same, Putin is playing with fire. In Russia, Yeltsin — just like Gorbachev — is correctly perceived as a traitor pure and simple, deliberately wreaking havoc on Russia and her people and giving US imperialism free reign all over the planet, apart from being a despicable, bumbling alcoholic. Given Putin’s cleverness, he knows all this damned well, and that makes any grovelling before Yeltsin, even post-mortem, look like a symbolic act of treason.
With regards to Gorbachev, it is hard to see what else he could have done, aside from kill hundreds of thousands of people in a crackdown, something he was (thank God) determined to avoid after his predecessors started a war in Afghanistan that killed around 1,000,000 people.
So when the peoples of Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania, Georgia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Uzbekistan, Poland, East Germany, Romania, Bulgaria, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, and a few others, threw off decades, and in some cases centuries, of brutal Russian occupation Gorbachev did not send in the Russian military to indiscriminately kill as did his predecessors (and his successors for that matter).
You are getting trapped again Andrew! Told you, ignore this boy; you are not going to convince him of anything. He needs sex, that’s the only cure. Otherwise, if we will keep reading this anti-Western gibberish.
By the way, did you see his wise observations about Jefferson acting under “Manifest Destiny?” I guess, non-Americans don’t realize that that doctrine was not articulated until 20 years after Jefferson’s death.
It’s like accusing Bismark of being the father of Holocaust!
What is this “lambada” about ? Do not beleive tt russians have too positive recollection about Yelstin. But…recollection about Gorbachev is more negative – tha’t for sure !
2 Bob re “Russian democracy ended in 1993″…but when did it commence ?
Yeltsin’s “democracy” I remember pretty well.
The military coup of 1993, the destruction of independent parlament (Supreme Court), the mass opression and murders of journalists (in times of yeltsinism, it was 2,5 times higher, than in Putin times), the total corruption…
Trilirium, the independent Parliament would be the Duma, not the Supreme Court you idiot.
And corruption by all accounts is far worse now than it was in Yeltsins time, and that takes some doing.