hat-tip to Theo Spark
There are two images of Boris Yeltsin which stick in the mind. This one and the one of him on top of a tank during the abortive Moscow coup. Yeltsin was an enigma to many and a frustration to most. On the one hand he displayed enormous courage during the White House coup but he failed to entrench democracy and a market economy in a way which was enduring. In some ways he wasn't totally to blame. Yeltsin himself put much of the blame on the failure of the West to help him. The trouble was that many financial experts took one look at Yeltsin and took fright. They saw a drunken oaf rather than a clever politician. You could hardly blame them.
But Yeltsin will always get a tick in my book for his role in the ending of the August coup in 1991. He put his life on the line to save Gorbachev, who was in many ways an arch enemy. Of course this meant that Gorbachev remained beholden to him and guaranteed his succession, but it was a remarkable act of bravery nevertheless.
He once said: “Today is the last day of an era past.” Quite.