15 December 2011, 17:58

Yeltsin –creator or destroyer?

Yeltsin –creator or destroyer?

A monument to Russia’s first president Boris Yeltsin that was unveiled in his hometown of Yekaterinburg this year is a symbol of Yeltsin’s strong will and determination. He had to make a lot of historic decisions indeed.

A monument to Russia’s first president Boris Yeltsin that was unveiled in his hometown of Yekaterinburg this year is a symbol of Yeltsin’s strong will and determination. He had to make a lot of historic decisions indeed. Yeltsin’s name is associated with the last days of the Central Communist Party, the collapse of the Soviet Union, new economic reforms, the Chechen War and other controversial events. People in Russia treated Yeltsin also controversially.

In 1985 Yeltsin came to Moscow from Yekaterinburg to work as the First Secretary of Moscow’s Communist Party and even then many people foresaw his future leadership. In a  year Yeltsin became a candidate to the Politburo governing committee. The next year he seriously clashed with the then General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev.

On August 19, 1991 a group of politicians set up the opposition State Emergency Committee while Gorbachev was on holidays in Crimea and demanded that he should impose a state of emergency and transferr power to Vice-President Gennady Yanayev. That was the most insane attempt to save the USSR which only triggered its dissolution. The coup was suppressed by Yeltsin’s swift action.

On December 8, the leaders of the Soviet Russia, Ukraine and Belarus, Boris Yeltsin, Leonid Kravchuk and Stanislav Shushkevich signed a document that brought an end to the USSR and created the CIS (Commonwealth of Independent States).

The Belavezha Accord contradicted the results of the March 1991 national referendum on the future of the Soviet Union where 78% of people living in the Soviet republics backed a renewed USSR.  In that situation Boris Yeltsin acted as a destroyer who put his personal ambitions above the public interest, says Russian political analyst Alexander Tsipko

"His only desire was to get to the Kremlin. He neglected Russia’s history. I believe that Yeltsin destroyed his own country out of pure vanity and revenge."

Yeltsin was both creator and destroyer, says analyst from the Centre for Political Technologies Alexei Makarkin

Certainly, his goal was to get the helm and he was gradually destroying the Communist Party legacy. At the same time Yeltsin prompted the emergence a new Russia. Under him the country got the Constitution, basics of the contemporary market economy and the new free media. Thus, his role during his reign is controversial.(end)

In 1996,  Yeltsin was elected for the second term but quit in three years. In his last TV address on December 31, 1999 the first president said that he was leaving not because of poor health but because of too many problems in the country and asked Russians to forgive him. Camera men recall that Yeltsin was crying after saying these words.

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