23 April 2007

Boris Nikolaevich

While this is not how I planned to mark my return to blogging on Russia, it seems empty to write about anything other than today's news that Boris Yeltsin is dead. The mood is heavy in my apartment right now - as I've noted before, my host parents are among the dedicated faithful that remain of the old democrats. They were with him at the White House in August 1991 and despite his many flaws, believed in him to the end. We just toasted to Yeltsin's memory, but it's obvious that the shot of vodka does little to dull the pain. It's interesting, of course, since few Russians would ever hold Yeltsin in such high regard.

Of course, the question of Yeltsin's legacy, already an overworked topic, will once again be in the limelight for some time. I don't wish to reflect on it at the moment; I don't have the energy. Plus, the historian in me knows that we have to wait another 50 years or so before we really can say what his legacy was. Nevertheless, I'll leave readers to ponder the following question:

Which of the following dates will come to be seen as the "defining moment" of Yeltsin's legacy? Each date is important to reflect on, as each one yields a different portrait of a leader. Only time will tell which Yeltsin history chooses to remember.

August 1991
October 1993
July 1996
December 1999

Of course, there are other important dates - November 1994, August 1998, August 1999 - but the ones listed above, I believe, are key not only in Yeltsin's political legacy, but more importantly, in setting the current path of Russia's political development.

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