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Neither Friend nor Foe

Yeltsin - Russian Blog

From the plethora of Western-authored Yeltsin op/ed articles circulating today, Anne Applebaum’s “Agent of Change” in the Washington Post rises to the top:

It has become fashionable to turn another 180 degrees and to condemn Yeltsin for corruption and autocracy just as thoroughly as the West once supported him. This is tempting, especially for those who disliked the lionization of Yeltsin as much as I did. But now that he is dead, perhaps it makes more sense not to classify him as a liberal or an autocrat, as friend or foe. For in the longer historical perspective, it is clear that Yeltsin, unlike his predecessor Gorbachev, was a genuine man of transition. He knew things had to change, but he had neither the ideas nor the tools to change them. He had some of the instincts of a populist democrat but all the habits of a lifetime Communist Party apparatchik. He admired Western abundance but never understood how Western societies actually work.