Remembering Yeltsin

Clifford Levy at the Times talks to some ordinary Russians about what they think of the new memorial unveiled in honor of former president Boris Yeltin: yeltsin050508.jpg Photo credit: James Hill for The New York Times

“It’s horrible, just horrible,” said Anastasia Kandaurova, 21, a paramedic.

Then again, she was also hostile toward Mr. Yeltsin. Like many young people, she knew more of the crises at the end of his presidency, including the financial collapse of 1998, than of his earlier heroics, like leading the fight against the coup that temporarily overthrew the last Soviet president, Mikhail S. Gorbachev.“I believe that he did nothing good for the country, especially at the end of his time,” Ms. Kandaurova said of Mr. Yeltsin. “Everything was terrible, salaries, everything. It was not only him, it was the people around him. Putin, of course, is much better.”Another visitor, Vasily Dardonov, 67, was bothered by the imagery. “It looks like they threw the flag down on the ground,” Mr. Dardonov said. “It’s like an insult. Do you like it if your American flag lies on the ground? Do you walk on it or near it?”Nina Antonova, a retired doctor, found the memorial puzzling, but took some solace in the knowledge that it pleased Mr. Yeltsin’s wife, Naina. Ms. Antonova said she wanted to see the memorial because she continued to think fondly of Mr. Yeltsin.“I voted for him, and I personally believed in him,” she said. “He managed to overcome a lot, to make a break with the past. But in the end, things didn’t turn out so well.”