Publius Pundit

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Yeltsin's Mixed Legacy

Filed under: Europe ~ Russia

Yeltsin dying seems pretty irrelevant to me, but it's one of those news days where not too much is going on. Now that the Anna Nicole Smith affairs is over and done with, the media must be breathing a sigh of relief that Yeltsin died. He was an extremely important world political figure as Russia transitioned from communism. Truthfully, one can only guess to what people will remember of him. I suppose the first thing I think of is vodka, but that's because he didn't affect me much.

Talking he did during his times seems like a waste of time, though. It's well-documented. If you want to know more about his era, read The Oligarchs, which I'd say is a fantastic intro to the era.

His effect on that past of the '90s is much less important than talking about present of today. Outside of shock therapy and all the moves that were intended to promote a democratic and capitalist society, the two moves that he personally made that have the most impact today are the strengthening of the presidency and his selection of Vladimir Putin to succeed him. Facing a communist revolt early in his career, Yeltsin constantly sought to take away power from the Duma so that he could maintain power over the direction of the country. This may have seemed like the right thing to do to erode the power of the communists, but overall it has led to a super-presidency that, in the hands of Vladimir Putin, is neither democratic nor as he intended. I guess that's what I'll remember the most about him.

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