Tribute to Boris Yeltsin

Posted by Kimberly: 

In the summer of 1990, I visited Russia, as part of a 6 week study of Russian language and culture.

On the trip, I ran into a man who was a dual citizen of England and France. While I was essentially studying language 101, this other man was studying political science. He was very eager to tell me about Boris Yeltsin, and that Mr. Yeltsin was going to be an important figure in Russia. And, that the Russian people idolized Mr. Yeltsin.

One day, my friend the French/Englishman dragged me to Red Square, because he knew what time Boris Yeltsin would be coming out of a meeting. I remember standing across Red Square, and I could make out Mr. Yeltsin’s figure, a man in a suit with a shock of white hair. And, a little old lady was going up to him to shake his hand. I still have the photo, with a very distant Boris Yeltsin visible in the background.

While I love Russian language and culture, I never did delve much more deeply into my studies, after that college trip. So, I only had a vague fondness for Mr. Yeltsin and the fact that he was there when things changed for the better.

So, a moment of reflection for a great man.

More details on his life and politics can be found at one of my favorite political web-sites:



While not US politics, the death of former Russian President Boris Yeltsin deserves to be the lead story because of the pivotal role he played in the downfall of Soviet communism. A dedicated communist, he rose through the Communist Party ranks by showing a rare populist streak. The charismatic regional leader saw his career quickly skyrocket once he was brought to Moscow, winning a spot on the powerful Politburo…

While once a key ally in Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev’s glasnost and perestroika reforms, the two men split when Gorbachev was pressured by hardliners to slow reforms and dump the troublesome Siberian. Yeltsin — a flawed man who readily acknowledged he drank too much and suffered from serious bouts of depression — was rousted from a hospital bed after a breakdown to be publicly humiliated and expelled from the party at an open meeting…

Yeltsin’s expulsion from the CPSU was the best thing that could have happened to his career, as it made him a people’s hero…

Putin today is turning Russia back into an authoritarian nation, albeit a capitalist one. Still, despite all his flaws, it was Yeltsin — possibly even more than Gorbachev — who ensured the collapse of the feared Soviet Union and freed millions of people from state tyranny. The cause of freedom owes Boris Yeltsin a debt of gratitude.

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