No. 16




The Yeltsin phenomenon. Purely subjective recollections

  • Viktor Palm

    Estonian Academy of Sciences academician, University of Tartu professor emeritus

As a persona, Boris Yeltsin was unique and indispensable. In his personal recollections, the writer deals with only the few episodes when his and Yeltsin´s very different paths unexpectedly crossed or even converged.

These crossed paths were in any case due to happenstance. The first instance was when, despite an initial decision not to run for member of the USSR´s Congress of People´s Deputies, the writer did not avoid being nominated. Once elected, he needed to gain some kind of understanding of the balance of power in the Congress and of the opportunities for cooperation. Not least, he had to decide how to view the two political titans and archrivals of the time, Mikhail Gorbachev and Boris Yeltsin. This difficult battle waged between the two ended with a brilliant victory for Yeltsin, but later Yeltsin, too, would end up on the losing end.

The writer met Yeltsin for the last time in a hallway, during an intermission for some event, where they exchanged a few words on the future of relations between Estonia and Russia. The writer expressed the opinion that in the future there would be many people in Estonia who would not have anything in their arsenal to sustain them besides Russophobia. A characteristic conspiratorial smile came on to Yeltsin´s face and he said: “For such occasions, we have Zhirinovsky to fall back on.”

Full article in Estonian