Russia has commemorated the 80th anniversary of birth of its first president, Boris Yeltsin (Boris Eltsin). This anniversary was marked with a series of tributes, programs, and exhibits. Russia’s current president Dmitry Medvedev unveiled a monument to Boris Yeltsin in former leader’s home city of Yekaterinburg. “Yeltsin’s strength helped us live through a difficult period when the foundation of Russia’s statehood was being created,” Medvedev said at the ceremony.
A white marble monument with Boris Yeltsin’s image stands 33 feet (10 meters) tall, representing the first political memorial unveiled since the Soviet Union times. According to Medvedev, “the monument expresses determination and will – the traits that were most characteristic of Boris Yeltsin.”
Boris Yeltsin (Boris Eltsin) held his presidency since the collapse of the Soviet Union in December 1991 until January 2000. As Russian President Boris Yeltsin maneuvered Russia toward democratic freedoms and started economic reforms to transform Russia into a market economy. But his final public approval rating went below 10 percent as a result of widespread corruption, the war in Chechnya, and economic collapse.
Boris Yeltsin resigned quite dramatically on the New Year’s Eve and left his post to his hand-picked successor Vladimir Putin, then the Prime Minister. Vladimir Putin, who is holding the prime minister’s post again, was notably absent from the ceremony in Yekaterinburg. Valentin Yumashev, Yeltsin’s former chief of staff, hinted that the first Russian president was disappointed with his chosen successor. “I think he would have thought, with the resources and opportunities that exist now, with the favorable economic conditions Russia has found itself in, Russia could have done more than it did.”
Yeltsin (Eltsin) with his Russian-style jokes and heavy drinking was quite popular with the Western leaders who had the opportunity to see Boris Yeltsin drunk. According to former US president Bill Clinton, the Russian leader got so drunk during his stay in Washington that he was once found outside the White House wearing only underpants and trying to get a hack to go and buy some pizza. The other night the presidential security took him for an intruder when he was detected stumbling around the basement of his guest house.
Boris Yeltsin (Boris Eltsin) died in April 2007 at the age of 76 of coronary failure.