Boris Yeltsin

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Boris Nikolayevich "Little Caesar"[1]"Catastroika" Yeltsin was the first President of Russia (1991-1999) and the latest to be democratically chosen. Known for hard-drinking, Yeltsin is perhaps best remembered as being the guy who did the twist in 1996. Yeltsin also accomplished a breathtaking goal, being more hated than the United States in Russia.[2]

In 1991, when the Soviet Union fell, Yeltsin called to end communism. Yeltsin's period is best remembered as Russia's first try at democracy[note 1] during which it became a de jure semi-presidential constitutional republic with Western-style institutions. By the end of 1990s his popularity rapidly declined due to his alcoholism, inefficient economic policies, and deteriorating relationship with NATO;[note 2] his successor, who formally preserved the democratic institutions, nonetheless made a sharp turn for the strongman type of leadership. However, considering how long it took for many other European countries to overcome authoritarian tendencies once they started moving towards democracy,[note 3] it would have been very surprising if Russia instantly did it perfectly.

Yeltsin's term[edit]

It was pretty much chaos. Instead of introducing gradual privatization,[note 4] Yeltsin handed the country over to "shock therapy" economics which allowed the country to be looted by bankers while people starved.[3][note 5] This especially upset communists in Siberia who felt betrayed by Yeltsin regardless of the fact that they demanded he leave office long before he took office. Still, Yeltsin's drinking provided Russians who could still afford to steal a television set nonstop entertainment.

In a 1995 summit with President Bill Clinton, Yeltsin said "you are the disaster" and they both laughed hard despite nobody knowing what was so funny.[note 6] Overall, American-Russian relations hit a height in peace during the Yeltsin-Clinton years.

Yeltsin had a great human rights record, if you exclude the war in Chechnya and dissolving Parliament in 1993 for voting against his bills.

Eventually Yeltsin was more or less universally despised by Russians (Yeltsin eventually achieved a lofty approval rating of 2%, which meant he was probably less popular than having cigarettes snuffed out on your genitalia) and he caved in to their cries to resign December 31, 1999; this is perhaps the single greatest New Year's present and the single greatest way to begin the new millennium for all of Russia. While nobody will go quite far enough to ask Yeltsin back, they're not exactly happy with Putin's very existence.[4]


Communists have become grateful toward Yeltsin for re-dismantling their country enough to give them a mandate to return to power. Bitter commies still dislike him though, and the word "Yeltsin" has replaced the word "American" as the king of Russian swear words.[citation needed]

External links[edit]


  • Freeland, Chrystia. Sale of the Century: Russia's Wild Ride from Communism to Capitalism. 2000, Crown Business. ISBN 0-812-93215-3


  1. With the exception of a brief periodWikipedia in 1917.
  2. The 1999 bombing of Yugoslavia largely contributed to this: many Russians took this personally because they consider Serbs a kindred nation. Besides, it renewed Cold War-era paranoia of NATO invasion.
  3. Some still have problems with this.
  4. Compare to, say, PolandWikipedia...
  5. When even The Economist calls your shift to capitalism "badly practiced", you probably fucked something up.
  6. Must be a political thing.


  1. Crowley, Michael, "Putin's Revenge", Politico 12.16.16.
  2. 2% approval rating. It's actually surprising that he managed to die from natural causes.
  3. One Step Forward, Two Steps Back
  4. Triesman, Daniel. "Presidential Popularity in a Young Democracy: Russia under Yeltsin and Putin." UCLA Division of Social Sciences, Nov. 2009. Web. 6 June 2013