CNN anchor Ashley Banfield confused Russian President Vladimir Putin with his predecessor Boris Yeltsin following Putin's speech at the UN General Assembly. To avoid further confusion, here are ten easy ways to remember which one is which.
1. Putin is not much of a dancer
Yeltsin is remembered for his love of music and dancing, from directing an orchestra to dancing on stage during his election campaign. Putin on the other hand remains fairly stoic when it comes to music and entertainment.
2….and not really a drinker
In a video released in a 2015 as part of a documentary on Putin's presidency, Putin, then Russia's Prime Minister raised a toast on the eve of a major operation against Chechen rebels in 1999.
He then put the glass down, saying that drinking in memory of those who put down their lives before the mission is complete would mean they died for nothing. Military chiefs saw the gesture as a turning point in how the operation would be handled.
3. Yeltsin is the guy who had tanks shell parliament
Following disagreements between Yeltsin and the parliament over privatization and other issues, Yeltsin dissolved Russia's parliament. When that led to multi-day clashes, the Russian military shelled the building.
4….and lost in Chechnya
During Chechen leader Zelimhan Yandarbiev's visit to sign a ceasefire and prisoner exchange agreement in May 1996, Yeltsin actually agreed to sit across from him at the table, rather than at its head with Yandarbiyev at the side as his subordinate. Yeltsin's decision to end the unpopular war in Chechnya was widely seen as an attempt to fix his unpopular image ahead of the presidential elections later that year.
5. Yeltsin also actually threatened the US with nukes in 1999
"He must have, for a minute, a second, a half-minute, forgotten what Russia is. That Russia is equipped with a full arsenal of nuclear weapons. He forgot about this. And so he decided to flex his muscles, as we say. And I want to say, through you [the media]: Clinton, don't forget what world you live in. <…> This multipolar world is based on the things we discussed with Jiang Zemin, President of the Chinese People's Republic — we will dictate to the world how to live, and not only him."
Russian-US relations were at an all-time low (sound familiar?) in 1999, following NATO's bombing of Yugoslavia and Russia's new military operation in Chechnya. However, Yeltin took it up a notch by actually bringing up nuclear weapons.
It is unclear if the speech was impromptu, as only two years earlier Yeltsin declared that he ordered nuclear warheads on missiles aimed at Western countries to be disabled. Yeltsin's press secretary Sergei Yastrzhembsky then explained away the statement by saying "The President was tired."
6. Putin is the one that likes working out
A significant part of Putin's image as a departure from his predecessor was his interest in sports, with photo ops of everything from fishing trips to hunting tigers, to working out with Prime Minister Medvedev.
7….and who disappears mysteriously much less
Putin's mysterious March 2015 retreat to the Novo-Ogaryovo residence raised eyebrows, but it was relatively uncommon compared to Boris Yeltsin's constant disappearances into the hospital and rumors about his health. In and out of the hospital, Yeltsin's health made some question whether the President was more alive than dead.
8. And had that whole circumcision thing
When the world was still asking "Who is Mr. Putin?" the Russian president continued to demonstrate his personality through tough statements that often created difficulties for interpreters.
9. Yeltsin also hung out with Kim Jong Un's grandpa while Putin only met his dad
Although this is not mentioned in Yeltsin's official biography, he actually met North Korea's Eternal President Kim Il Sung as Sverdlovsk (now Ekaterinburg) Communist Party boss. Putin only got to meet Kim Jong Il in 2002, as seen in this 1970s-style newsreel made by the Korean Central News Agency.
10. Believe it or not, they both hung out with Netanyahu, whose age somehow never changes
Though the 1996 meeting was largely about Iran's nuclear program (yes, even back then), when Russia was only beginning to re-enter Middle Eastern politics, while the September 2015 was about Syria's crisis.
But seriously, these videos were made 19 years apart, what's his secret?