Tuesday, April 24, 2007

RIP - Boris Yeltsin

This is all over the news today so I won't expand unnecessarily but let's just say, have a vodka or two today for the big guy. Or seventeen. Just don't try climbing on any tanks afterwards.

But seriously now...not expand? who am I kidding? This is an occassion upon which to expand and ruminate. The Russians wouldn't have it any other way.

Credited by some to be the true architect of the demise of Soviet Union, Yeltsin presided over what became a genuinely free (if very troubled) country, probably the only time the Russians had experienced democracy. Even though Boris essentially drank himself out of office and out of relevance, I've always had a warm spot in my heart for this character. He was a populist in the best sense of the word and not a control freak like the current Russian president.

Boris was such a personality that the only possible Canadian equivalent would be some bizzare combination of Ralph Klein with the late-period Chretien, plus a massive dose of political courage a la Trudeau in 1970 (but with much more at stake). ..and if you have to go further abroad in your imagination, add a touch of Nixon to a Churchill-type personality, and then marinate in vodka and copious doses of intrigue. Easy to criticize, not easy to emulate, and impossible to recreate. The world politics is a little poorer, a little less entertaining, a little less human without him.

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