A look back at Yeltsin

Real Clear Politics offers two pieces about the legacy of Boris Yeltsin who died earlier this week. The first, by Anne Applebaum in the Washington Post, views Yeltsin as “Russia’s agent of change” and argues, in effect, that Yeltsin was never as good or as bad as he seemed.
The second piece, by David Satter of the Hoover Institution and Johns Hopkins, takes a less charitable view. He writes:

In the aftermath of Yeltsin’s death, there will be many, particularly in the U.S., who try to draw a distinction between democracy under Yeltsin and authoritarianism under Mr. Putin. This distinction is false. Democracy implies a rule of law that did not exist under Yeltsin. At the same time, Mr. Putin was Yeltsin’s handpicked successor. He never would have become president were it not for the criminality of the Yeltsin years, and the apartment bombings that led to the Second Chechen War.

I agree with Satter. Yeltsin’s time as head of Russia was a disaster and it led pretty directly to the even worse disaster we’re now witnessing.
UPDATE: David Pryce-Jones concludes his look at Yeltsin with this statement: “His country will continue for a long time to pay the price for his egoism, his vanity, and his corruption. In the end, little was left of this one-time hero except his feet of clay.”


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