Russia

Boris Yeltsin, 1931-2007

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Former Russian president Boris Yeltsin is dead.

Kremlin spokesman Alexander Smirnov confirmed Yeltsin's death, but gave no cause or further information. The Interfax news agency cited an unidentified medical source as saying he had died of heart failure. Although Yeltsin pushed Russia to embrace democracy and a market economy, many of its citizens will remember him mostly for presiding over the country's steep decline.

In 1993, Cathy Young filed a report for Reason on Yeltin's early, tumultuous days leading a post-Soviet Russia. Virginia Postrel toured the "Wild East of Russian capitalism" in 1996. More of Reason on Yeltsin is here.

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  1. And in other news, shares of Stolichnaya plunged on the RTS today.

  2. I never thought I would see the day when former Soviet rulers died of natural causes after leaving office.

  3. From his Wikipedia page: “Yeltsin received his higher education at the Ural Polytechnic Institute in Sverdlovsk, majoring in construction, and graduated in 1955. The theme of his degree paper was ‘Television Tower'”.

  4. “I never thought I would see the day when former Soviet rulers died of natural causes after leaving office.”

    Guy, you are ASSUMING it was natural causes.

  5. Guy Montag,

    Not to defend the USSR or anything, but that is how Khrushchev died.

    Beria was the last Soviet leader that I know of to be simply offed by his rivals.

  6. I think Guy’s referring to the mad popularity of getting chosen as leader just to die within a year or so that was all the rage for Soviet leaders in the early 80’s (Andropov, Chernenko).

    AG:
    Communists had some bizarre obsessions with elaborate TV towers. They’re everywhere around eastern Europe. I can’t really get my mind around how and why these people decided that broadcasting stands were somehow fitting monuments to the construction prowess of the Soviet proletariat.

  7. I can still see him on that tank. If it weren’t for good old drunk fat slightly corrupt Boris, I would not be able to have as many Russian friends as I do. Grossly imperfect man. But a great man. Missed.

  8. I think Guy’s referring to the mad popularity of getting chosen as leader just to die within a year or so that was all the rage for Soviet leaders in the early 80’s (Andropov, Chernenko).

    Yes, that is the era that I had stuck in my memory.

  9. Communists had some bizarre obsessions with elaborate TV towers.

    I thought those were mostly dedicated to jamming signals from the west.

  10. I was thinking more of the 1920s and 1930s and the various reigns of terror perpetrated against “Old Bolsheviks.”

  11. Consider that Yeltsin was ~22 when Stalin died (by natural causes or not).

  12. Boris wasn’t good enough.
    But then, neither was he Badanov.

  13. How appropriate that a man named Smirnov announced his death.

  14. It’s really too bad more of those assholes didn’t meet a violent end, say in a gulag.

  15. I’ve been waiting for the opportunity to post the greatest rock band name ever. I submit: Someone Still Loves you Boris Yeltsin.

  16. Remember that New Year’s Eve resignation speech/hostage tape?

    How many presidential resignations include pleas for mercy?

  17. Come on, heart failure?

    His liver probably executed its plan for excape and left for less alcoholic bodies.

  18. Timothy,

    The “Old Bolsheviks?” Most of them did end meeting that fate (or worse).

  19. When I write “most,” I mean 90% or more of them. Stalin basically “ate” the original revolutionary generation.

  20. I raise a liter of Stoli to your memory, Boris

  21. I think Bulganin, Malenkov and Molotov also died of natural causes. Khrushchev tended to demote his rivals rather than kill them. Malenkov and Molotov both died in the late 80s at the respective ages of 86 and

  22. CBC website headline:
    Boris Yeltsin, Russia’s reforming bear

  23. Sorry. Malenkov lived to 85 or 86 depending how you count birthdays with the calendar switch. Molotov lived to be 96.

  24. “In the end, all forms of death can be put down to heart failure.” Robert Heinlein in “Between Planets.”

  25. Syd,

    Yeah, Beria’s death was pretty much the end of political executions in the USSR. Political detentions, etc. didn’t of course end. I would guess that they had soured on political executions and their numerous negative effects (plus I am sure there was a “save my own future neck” quality to the decision as well).

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