People in the US and Russia are leading discussions about a soon-to-be-released book by a historian Taylor Branch, The Clinton Tapes: Wrestling History with the President. The book is based on Branch’s interviews will his University buddy Bill Clinton. The book details scandalous details of Boris Yeltsin’s visits to the United States.
Branch, allegedly from Clinton’s words, tells that in 1995 Yeltsin, clad only in his underwear, standing alone on Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington D.C., was trying to hail a cab to go get a pizza. The drunken guest’s escapade was stopped by American Secret Service agents.
“For starters, we didn’t even visit Washington in 1995. I looked at the reports specifically for the Izvestia newspaper,” said Vladimir Shevchenko, chief of protocol service of ex-president Yeltsin .
This comment would suffice, but the chief of protocol service likes accuracy.
“If Mr. Clinton doesn’t remember, I could refresh his memory. In 1995 he met Boris Yeltsin in New York. On October 23 of 1995, at 11:20AM they had a discussion in the Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum. At 3PM they said their good-buys at a helicopter deck,” he said.
Even if Clinton (or Branch) confused the dates, such a situation was impossible.
“It’s silly, the President is never alone,” said Shevchenko who stayed with Yeltsin 24/7 during all his visits. “I can’t imagine that the President would go somewhere clad in his underwear only. It’s nonsense. Another ridiculous thing – we never let American guards near the President, ever. We had a tight circle, only our own people; these are the rules of all presidents. Yeltsin was guarded all the time. I am also upset because Yeltsin and Clinton had very good friendly relationships. I don’t believe that this information comes from Clinton, this is below him,” Vladimir Shevchenko said.
However, there is some basis for this story. For example, former Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott described the pizza episode in his memoirs in 2002. But it was completely different from what Branch described in his book. According to Talbott, in 1994 Yeltsin demanded pizza standing on the stairs of Blair House, the government guest quarters across from the White House. He wasn’t, indeed, dressed appropriately, but at that moment he was at home at Blair House. Revealing episodes like this to the public is up to personal professional and ethical standards of the people who witness them. Real professionals - diplomats, security guards and others – prefer to keep silence. Especially if the events involve people who can no longer object.
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