Boris Yeltsin, RIP
If there are two pictures we should remember of the fall of Communism in Russia, the first would have to be Boris Yeltsin climbing the tank outside the Kremlin to thwart the coup by Communist hardliners.
The second picture would have to be Yeltsin deposing Gorbachev and overthrowing Communism.
Unfortunately, undoing 70 years of Leninist ideology justifying Soviet-style oligarchy proved to be too much for one man. If there was any hope that Russia would adopt western style democracy, those hopes were diminished when Yeltsin ordered the shelling of the Russian Parliament. Yeltsin’s handpicked successor is doing his part to end those hopes and return Russia to autocratic rule.
But Yeltsin’s impact on the world will be long felt outside of Russia. No longer is Russia the occupying power in Eastern Europe, nor is it a threat and rival to the United States as it was during the Cold War.
For one college student in 1990, it was a mixture of joy and frustration to look at a bookshelf full of works on Soviet foreign policy and Soviet politics and to know that after four years of a college education the world had irrevocably changed.
Today Russia is building the world’s longest tunnel to connect the United States and Russia across the Bering Strait to bring oil to North America. The world has changed, and changed for the better.
When his country called, Yeltsin risked his life to bring his people more freedom and opportunity than they had for over 73 years. Few men respond so admirably to their nation’s call. He should be remembered fondly as a patriot and a man who helped bring peace between East and West. Let everyone here at the Pub raise a toast to the man and his memory (Stolichnaya Vodka, of course). May he rest in peace.