Monday, April 23, 2007



Boris Yeltsin was the right man, in the right place, at the right time.

A lot of people forget now that, as late as 1986, Communism looked as solidly set as ever in Russia. The Kremlin's forces were gaining on the ground in their new Afghan colony...The courageous "dissident movement" was seen as eliminated...And their mortal enemy, Ronald Reagan, had suffered an embarrassing national setback in America's 1986 elections.

Yeltsin quit the Politburo in 1987, with a dramatic "Up Yours!" speech to the Central Committee, and then proceeded to put on a clinic on "How to LEverage an Ounce of Freedom to Destroy a Ton of Tyranny." He ran in the semi-free Duma elections of 1989, and took a 97% victory against a candidate hand-picked by the Politburo. In the Duma he allied with prominent human rights activists like Andrei Sakharov, Marju Lauristyn, and Yuri Orlov, and with them created the "Interregional Group," to which he brought insider power. In 1990 he crushed another Kremlin candidate to become the first elected President of Russia. Yeltsin, a charismatic "Great Russian," went out of his way to defend the smaller, crushed nations of the USSR, like Georgia, the Baltics, and even the Jews--he personally ordered Passover services in Moscow to be broacast nationwide in 1990.

Yeltsin's years in power after the collapse of communism certainly had their share of errors, but we must never underestimate the challenge he confronted: changing a pot of fish soup that had boiled for 74 years BACK into an aquarium. He deliberately chose to abandon a rich and pampered career as a nomenklaturist in favor of confronting monolithic Soviet communism, and at every turn he made strategic choices that pushed the spear in deeper and deeper. All friends of freedom owe him a debt of gratitude--may his spirit inspire the people of Russia far into the future.

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