Sunday, April 29, 2007

Yeltsin Remembered; Challenging MSM's point of view

A POV you won't easily find in the MSM (the Nation):

Boris Yeltsin, who died on April 23, was a towering figure in Russian political history. But was he, as so many US obituaries and editorials have described him, the "Father of Russian Democracy"?

As though a wave of historical amnesia had swept over the media, few commentators seemed to remember that it was Mikhail Gorbachev, upon becoming Soviet leader in 1985, who launched the democratic reforms of "perestroika" and "glasnost"--ending censorship, permitting, even encouraging, opposition rallies and demonstrations, beginning market reforms and holding the first free, multi-candidate elections. (Indeed, Yeltsin was the chief beneficiary of those reforms.)

Those reforms provided Yeltsin with an opportunity unique in Russian history. In June 1991--when he was elected President of Soviet Russia in what remains perhaps the freest and fairest Presidential election the country has ever had--and again in August 1991 when he stood, iconically, on a tank to face down an attempted coup by Communist hardliners, Yeltsin could have seized the chance to become the co-founder of Russian democracy.

But if Yeltsin was any kind of reformer, it was in the undemocratic tradition of Peter the Great, with whom he often compared himself, and he quickly squandered--even betrayed--that chance. After August 1991, Yeltsin's anti-democratic policies polarized, embittered and impoverished his country laying the ground for what is now unfolding in Russia--though it is being blamed solely on today's Russian President, Vladimir Putin.
Read the whole article by Katrina vanden Heuvel here: Yeltsin--Father of Democracy?

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