There are two unshakable images of Russia's Boris Yeltsin. One is that of the courageous leader standing atop a tank in 1991, staring down the last dangerous gasp of Communist power in a crumbling Soviet Union he would then dismantle.
Another, eight years later, is of a weary Boris Yeltsin wiping away a tear as he became the first Russian leader ever to voluntarily give up power, and begging — as he went — for the Russian people's forgiveness for his failings.
Now, Yeltsin is dead. And Russia is not what he dreamed of. But his handpicked successor is in charge.
This hour On Point: Boris Yeltsin, and the Russia he leaves behind.
Quotes from the Show:
"Yeltsin is not a popular figure in today's Russia." Andrew Miller
"The idea that he [Yeltsin] put power in the hands of the people, and hearing Putin say this is kind of ironic because, for whatever strengths Putin may have, one of his severe weaknesses is his squashing of any civil liberties that grew up however tenderly under Yeltsin. Russia is also a country that lacks politics at this point." David Remnick
"Of all the corruption that he allowed to leak into the state and the mistakes made about the economy and we could go on and on, on August 19, 1991 he [Yeltsin] played the role of a heroic, courageous leader and there's no way that can be taken away from him, and it has a historical impact that was and is incalculable." David Remnick
"What they [Russians] expected of Yeltsin was [for him] to become their benefactor, to deliver better lives to them, and when he failed to deliver, they condemned him." Masha Lipman
"What we have today is a very lawless [Russian] country." Masha Lipman
Andrew Miller, Moscow Correspondent for The Economist.;
David Remnick, editor for the New Yorker and author of "Lenin's Tomb: The Last Days of the Soviet Empire" and "Resurrection: The Struggle For A New Russia"
Masha Lipman, Editor-in-chief, Pro et Contra Journal, Carnegie Moscow Center, and columnist for The Washington Post.
This program aired on April 24, 2007.