Monday, April 23, 2007

Death of Boris Yeltsin

With the announcement that Boris Yeltsin has died, the world has a lost a significant figure who played a major role in the downfall of the Soviet Union. Anyone who can remember the scenes during the abortive coup of August 1991 with Yeltsin on top of a tank in Red Square, cannot fail to recognise his role in the downfall of Communism in the Soviet Union.

While his presidency was later marked by unpredictability on occasions and a fondness for the bottle, he nevertheless made a significant contribution in shaping democracy within Russia along with making it far more open to the outside world.

Sadly since he left office and increasingly in recent years, Russia has slipped back to old ways in many respects with limitations on the media, freedom of speech, the crackdown on political dissidents and the move away from a democratic state. While Yeltsin had his faults, Russia was a far more open place under his leadership then it's become under Putin.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

The reason Yeltsin was not better than Putin is that the Russian people are much better off, politically and economically, under Putin than they ever could have been under the incompentent Yeltsin. Russia was far more open then in the sense that the door to the chicken coop was left open for the foxes. Putin has closed that door.

10:32 am  
Blogger Martin Whelton said...

They are certainly better off economically then they were in the Yeltsin years though that is nearly the same for all ex-communist countries.

In recent years, the rise in the price of gas and oil has certainly made Russia a wealthier country.

Politically though they have gone backwards in recent years.

11:17 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You have a very Bush/Blairesque view of freedom, Martin! When people are effectively "free" to die of bombs (in Iraq) or starvation (in Yeltsin's Russia), you appear to relish their abstract "freedom" from a safe distance!

1:41 am  

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