Monday, April 23, 2007

Boris Yeltsin Remembered

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.


Chris Paul said...

Like a cross between Boris Johnson and Ted Heath. Too much BODA for his own good. Dosweedanya Boris, you old sock puppet you.

The Hitch said...

"The trouble was" Yeltsin was a thief who sold his countries assets to a group of chaps who all attended the same synagogue and used Rothschild money.
Not anti semitism,FACT!

scotch said...

Iain, that's not a real image. Should you not make that clear?

Anonymous said...

Slightly off-topic, but worth repeating in the current climate. Gorbachev was away in the country when the 1991 coup occurred, accompanied by his wife and security men. I read that when Gorbachev heard about the coup (not sure how, forgotten, sorry) he also knew that armed troops would be coming for him and he obviously had no illusions about his likely fate.

He told his protection officers to leave and save themselves, because there was nothing they could do to help him now. Apparently they said "We stay with you to the end, Comrade, whatever that may be".

Imagine the kind of personal loyalty he must have inspired for them to say that under those circumstances. We all know you have to give loyalty to receive it.

How about the current incumbent of No.10..............

Anonymous said...

Those naughty imps at the Kremlin. Anybody else spot the name of the guy given the task of informing the world of his death?

"Kremlin spokesman Alexander Smirnov told The Associated Press that Yeltsin died, but gave no cause of death or further information.

Anonymous said...

No the trouble was that Clinton sent Jeffrey Sachs and a group of Neo-Reaganites who had turned Poland upside down and now proceeded with allies like Gaidar and Yavlinsky to turn Russia upside down.

Yeltsin had pulled the RFSSR out of the USSR which had the effect of leaving factories without parts since Soviet factories were integrated across republics. It also led to republics carving out their own polities and raiding nuclear stockpiles.

Sachs and the rest had help from Clinton who pumped IMF loans in to keep Yeltsin elected and this money went for walkabout through Switzerland.

With chaps like Berezovsky working on Yeltsin's daughter and building a power base - nice Russian film - Tycoon - modelled on Berezovsky and his ability to get hold of state assets cheap; then having to offload onto his sidekick Abramovitch when life got hot.

There are stories Berezhovsky was protected by the Chechen Mafia who provided a roof for his activities and executed his rivals.

Clinton wanted Yeltsin kept in place so oil companies could parcel out Russian oil reserves and gain control of mineral deposits and forestry assets.

That is why Putin and his acolytes have been busy removing Western influence which they see as carpetbaggers coming to steal Russian natural resources and turn Russia into a place like The Congo, preventing any form of proper government.

Without people like Sachs and Yavlinsky and Gaidar Russia might have emerged as social democratic, but the smash and grab raid undertaken by US corporates under Clinton made it certain that a return to The State as guarantor of Russian nationhood would be evident in time.

To the Russian mind it was just like 1917-1919 when we invaded - France, USA, Britain, Japan with Kornilov and Kolchak to overthrow the Reds and Japan wanted Siberia.

We should ook at history from 1941 the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbour which saved Europe, because the original plan was to attack the USSR in the East and not Asia through the South.

Had the Japanese stuck to this plan, Zhukhov could not have moved his troops from The Far East to Stalingrad; the USA would not have entered the War; and Hitler might well have defeated Stalin.

So the Russians tended to see the Yeltsin years latterly as a weak Czar rather as the Chinese had weak emperors when the Germans and British and Americans seized concessions on the coast and kept China weak and disunited.

That is why Putin is reacting as he does. Will be interesting to see how the Russian press comments on Yeltsin

Anonymous said...

I read that when Gorbachev heard about the coup (not sure how, forgotten, sorry)

BBC World Service radio

Anonymous said...

Thanks Voyager - Good to know our licence fee is useful for something!

Anonymous said...


The clue to the fact that this isn't a real image is that it is courtesy of Theo Spark.

If it had been a real image, there'd have been another couple of bottles in his jacket pockets and a further brace tucked under his armpits...

Anonymous said...

Isn't that Madonna on stage with him?

Anonymous said...

Thanks Voyager - Good to know our licence fee is useful for something!

World service is funded by a grant from the FCO and has nothing to do with your licence fee.......(Sorry !)

The Hitch said...

Gaidar is a wesite , it isnt Russian and he has nothing to do with Yeltsin.
It is a place where gentlemen who prefer the company of other gentlemen can arrange to meet up
Although its founder did recently get pissed on vodka and jump out of a window so there may be a connection.

Chris Paul said...

The image isn't that far off the real thing. Noticeable that only Tories are getting up and saying what a genius this corrupt drunk was.

Anonymous said...


I'm pretty sure it isn't Madonna...

If it was her, she would have a bottle up her jacksy, for sure.

Anonymous said...

"They saw a drunken oaf rather than a clever politician. "

They said the same about Charles Kennedy who, for all his faults, (and he has many) is a better politician 3 days a week than Cameron and Cmpbell put together.

Anonymous said...

anonymous 9.35

Re: Chatshow Charlie...

Can you give us a quick run-down on his contribution to UK politics in the past year (or so?)

If you're struggling with an answer, just ask the same question from voters in his constituency.

I'm sure he's a nice chap fundamentally, but it's time he got out of politics.

Anonymous said...

Gaidar is a wesite , it isnt Russian and he has nothing to do with Yeltsin.

Yegor Timurovich Gaidar (Его́р Тиму́рович Гайда́р) (born March 19, 1956) is a Russian economist and politician, and was the acting Prime Minister of Russia from June 15, 1992 to December 14, 1992.

Gaidar graduated with honors from the Moscow State University, Department of Economics, in 1978 and worked as a researcher in several academic institutes. A long-time member of the Communist Party and an editor of the CPSU ideological journal Communist during the perestroyka, he turned a liberal during the time of Yeltsin's reforms. In 1991 he quit the Communist Party and joined Yeltsin's government.

While in government, Gaidar advocated liberal economic reforms according to the principle of shock therapy. His most well-known decision was to abolish price regulation by the state, which immediately resulted in a major increase of prices and amounted to officially authorizing a market economy in Russia. He also cut military procurement and industrial subsidies, and reduced the budget deficit. Gaidar was the Minister of Economic Development from 1991 until 1992, and Minister of Finance from February 1992 until April 1992.

He was appointed acting Prime Minister under President Boris Yeltsin in 1992 from June 15 until December 14, when the anti-Yeltsin Congress of People's Deputies refused to confirm him in this position and chose instead the seemingly more conservative Viktor Chernomyrdin. Gaidar was also the First Deputy Prime Minister from 1991 until 1992 and again from September 1993 until January 1994.

Later in 1994, after leaving the government, he became a founding member and chairman of the Democratic Choice of Russia party. In 1999, he became a founding member and co-chairman, along with his longtime political ally Anatoly Chubais of the Union of Right Forces. He served as a deputy of the State Duma from 1999 to 2003. In 2001 the Democratic Choice Party merged into the Union of Right Forces. After URF's failure to regain seats in the parliament in 2003, Gaidar gradually retired from public political activities, concentrating on research in economics.

Anonymous said...

I think the difference in Russia under putin from under Yeltsin shows how much an individual in the right place can do. The west tends call Yeltsin a democrat & Putin a dictator (even though Yeltsin sent tanks against the Parliament). This is because, whatever we say, a collapsed Russia does not interfere with our interests.

The Russians overwhelmingly support Putin because he has made their country rich. I do not think we enhance our reputation as democrats by saying Putin isn't one.