teisipäev, aprill 24, 2007

Nägemist Yeltsin!


It's a funny thing. Most of us the West liked Yeltsin because he seemed approachable and semi-normal. He could go to Katyn and unflinchingly apologize for Soviet war crimes. He knew the Stalinist state because his father had been arrested for sabotaging it. He didn't want to see military action in eastern Europe because he had already lived through one and one was enough.

On the flipside, there are all those actions that are easy to criticize, and apparently many in Russia are not as enthusiastic about burying Boris as we were about burying that decent, just decent, fellow Gerald Ford last year.

But above all, he was smart to recognize and correct Stalin's mistake of occupying the Baltics in 1940 and to withdraw the Russian army from countries that didn't and still do not pose any threat to Russia. He may have been a bumbling drunk, but, in terms of the Baltics, he didn't let nationalist pride get in the way of making the right decisions that have been ultimately beneficial for Russia.

20 kommentaari:

Kristjan ütles ...

I think more than anything else, Yeltsin will be remembered as the first Russian leader ever to try democracy in Russia.

Was it a good try? Well... Not really, I would say. Too many of his key actions were stupid and/or weak. But at least he tried.

When will Russia try again? In about half a century or so, I'd guess, when the regime that is currently being built will collapse like the Soviet one did.

Until then, we really need to keep in mind that Russia doesn't invade countries that are a threat to it. Russia invades countries that it thinks it can add to its territory.

Rest in peace, Yeltsin. You will be remembered as something rather unique in the line of Russian leaders - a good man.

oliver ütles ...

No point to be original, I agree with Latvian politician/human rights activist Nils Muiznieks:
'He created an independent state, but the chaos which ruled in his time discredited the market economy and the meaning of democracy in Russia and thus paved the way for Putin's authoritarian regime'

There's a interesting? article from India - Indo-Asian News Service(!)... Yeltsin from the Soviet Vs. Baltic viewpoint:
"Baltics see Yeltsin between heaven, hell and Putin"

Kari ütles ...

A really controversiol figure. The Baltic leaders call him a saviour and a friend meanwhile the Chechens accuse him of crimes against humanity. A communist who destroyed the Soviet Union as well as a democrat who destroyed all hopes of democracy in Russia.

Giustino ütles ...

A communist who destroyed the Soviet Union as well as a democrat who destroyed all hopes of democracy in Russia.

Did Russia really have any hope? I mean look at how the coup played out. Gorbachev went on vacation, the rightwingers had their coup, then chickened out, and the last man standing was Yeltsin.

It irks me when Russians badmouth Yeltsin and add the US liberally to their feelings of victimhood. They chose Yeltsin.

I didn't choose George W. Bush but that was solely the responsibility of my peers in America, not of some invisible foreign hand.

Things were bad in Russia, but nobody got their head chopped off in Moscow. Nobody's family was sequestered and brutally executed. Knowing Russia's history, that's something to be proud of.

Anonüümne ütles ...

Considering Putin has called the fall of the Soviet Union the greatest disaster of the 20th century and Yeltsin played a significant role in that it's not surprising that a lot of russians don't really like him.

Anonüümne ütles ...

Did Russia really have any hope? I mean look at how the coup played out. Gorbachev went on vacation, the rightwingers had their coup, then chickened out, and the last man standing was Yeltsin.

I thought it were leftwingers, i.e. communist hardliners, that had their coup.

Giustino ütles ...

I thought it were leftwingers, i.e. communist hardliners, that had their coup.

You are correct. My mistake. I should have said 'conservatives.'

karLos ütles ...

wow, that article link is quite disturbing. it's hard to believe after all this time so many russians are so bitter, and perhaps even hopeful of some kind of nationalist russifying "liberation".

if i were them, i would have moved to a some part of russia long ago. i couldn't live with that level of poisonous bitterness day in day out for 15 years. and what would have been the point?

Kristopher ütles ...

"For the majorities of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, Yeltsin is regarded as close to a father figure."

Speaking ill of the dead may be taboo in Kathmandu or wherever that sentence was written but last time I checked reality checks were still OK.

Before we put Yeltsin up there with Laidoner and Pitka -- is it my imagination, or do I remember that the "domestic consumption" anti-Baltic propaganda machine churned just as hard during the Yeltsin years? Latvia got it especially bad.

How about the war in Chechnya -- or was that domestic consumption again? Poor man, hamstrung by his base, the oligarchs, the army. Wait, but that wasn't diplomacy -- that is a shooting war against tens of thousands of civilians, maybe genocide -- and Yeltsin started it! At least the offensive wasn't directed against the "human rights abusers" in Estonia and Latvia, we should be thankful.

What else do I recall about the Yeltsin era? The same abysmal press freedom rankings as ever, and dire warnings that there would be no independent media outlets left in a matter of months. Now I guess Russia has reached that point.

OK, so first president was drunk, and he could be fnuny without trying -- he made a sitting US president crack up (laugh uncontrollably) without trying. The new one is a humorless teetotaller with a Napoleon complex and a reptilian gleam in his eye, and he goes whitewater rafting with the new sitting US president and talks (and this now is only an educated guess) I am sabout how to divvy up the world.

But the continuum between Yeltsin and Putin is smooth.

You can call Russia a riddle or enigma or frigging jigsaw puzzle. But Lenin was also right -- substructure determines superstructure. What happened was very predictable. Like everywhere, there was a party after independence, some people got rich, and then the buzz wore off, and they got envious of each other, and are still settling their scores.

Flasher T ütles ...

I think technically there were attempts at democracy in Tzarist Russia, however short-lived and ineffective... and of course there was the democratic Novgorod Republic back in the Middle Ages. For what that's worth. :)

Estonia's perspective is often different from the overall global perspective, because we have our own interests, and we're too small to be picky about how we pursue them. In this way Yeltzin is predominantly positive. Yeltzin allowed Estonia to get its independence, and that is a Good Deed(tm) that bought him a massive amount of credit in our eyes.

Yes, he turned Russia into a Wild West scene, but there's a fairly convincing argument that a market economy could not be established in that country without significant growing pains. Yes, he fucked up Chechnya. Yes, he introduced double tariffs on Estonian imports. But he was instrumental in the fall of the Soviet Union; he was the one who blew on the house of cards hard enough for Estonia's card to land all the way across the room. On balance, he's alright.

Giustino ütles ...

if i were them, i would have moved to a some part of russia long ago. i couldn't live with that level of poisonous bitterness day in day out for 15 years. and what would have been the point?

Karlos, here's another link that will blow your mind.

http://www.map-of-russia.org/map-of-russia.gif

Russia is still the largest country in the world and only 142 million (and dropping) people live there.

In other words, there's plenty of room for Russian nationalists in the world. Israeli nationalists have a tiny beach on the Mediterranean. Their hunger for more land could be understood (if not supported). The Russian thirst for territory is harder to understand.

Anonüümne ütles ...

Maybe all that the Russians want is a tiny beach on the Baltic...

karLos ütles ...

isn't that what they wanted prussia.. i mean kallingrad for? a place for the "baltic russians", so they wouldn't have to suffer the lowly aboriginals of the area...

Kristjan ütles ...

In other words, there's plenty of room for Russian nationalists in the world.


Yes, but when you look at the world map, you'll notice that there is far more land without Russian control than within it.

It is their destiny, you see. To save the world from being un-Russian.

Jaan ütles ...

The West just desperately needs someone to love in Russia, don't they? Fellow travellers in the West went gaga over glasnost in the 1980s, I guess Yeltsin is now an after the fact Gorby for slightly more sophisticated observers.

Giustino ütles ...

The West just desperately needs someone to love in Russia, don't they? Fellow travellers in the West went gaga over glasnost in the 1980s, I guess Yeltsin is now an after the fact Gorby for slightly more sophisticated observers.

They're hard to come by. I think the 'touchiness' factor is an issue. The Estonians are blunt. They'll say anything to your face. But if you so much as say that borsh isn't your favorite soup in the world you get a reaction like this:

Things at lunch were amicable until I asked the former Pizza Hut pitchman whether he thought there was anything factual behind the persistent reporting in the west that Russian President Vladimir Putin has been backsliding away from democracy.

Gorbachev's smile disappeared, his eyes narrowed to lumps of burning coal, and for the next 10 minutes or so he barked out an angry lecture defending Putin and savaging the United States for working actively to humiliate Russia and make her experiments with democracy and capitalism fail.


http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/la-oew-welch17apr17,0,3137746.story?coll=la-promo-opinion

space_maze ütles ...

That's a bit odd .. Gorbachyov has not exactly established himself as a fan of Putin's policies.

http://www.mosnews.com/column/2004/09/16/gorbachev.shtml

Jens-Olaf ütles ...

It seems to be modern Russia has to live with the fact that Boris Yeltsin was there first democratic elected president they ever had rather than celebrating this. But rewriting history is a popular term there. Maybe later he should be viewed as a first capitalistic demon or whatever. And as usual, that Yeltsin played an important role for the regaining of the independence of the Baltics nobody mentioned this in the German media. But I remember how they were scared to see the break up of the Soviet Union. Cause of Yeltsin, Landsbergis, Kelam and all the others. Already amnesia here.

Yuri ütles ...

Yeltsin sent tanks in to Chechenia as a police action, he didn't expect it to get so out of control. And he later regretted it.

plasma-jack ütles ...

tanks as a police force?
how very Russian indeed