On February 1st, Russia marks the 80th anniversary since the birth of its late President Boris Yeltsin. Numerous exhibitions devoted to Yeltsin's life are being held across the country. Solemn events are taking place in many cities on February 1, whereas Russian President Dmity Medvedev unveiled the first-ever monument to Boris Yeltsin in Ekaterinburg. Today's Russia lacks state mythology. The only fundamental idea that is practiced today is anticommunism, which srves as justification of the catastrophe of 1991. However, new national symbols are being created in the country vigorously. In case of Boris Yeltsin, this practice looks ambiguously, to say the least.
For many Russians, Boris Yeltsin, the first Russian President, is a symbol per se. The meaning of the symbol spreads from the country's "independence" on its own historical territories to total dependence of home policies on oligarchic groups. It spreads from the national humiliation caused by Kozyrev's foreign politics to the informational war of the freedom of speech. And chaos, disguised with "democracy" and "market reforms" - the terms that were losing their meaning very quickly.
It is worthy of note that the image of the daring 1990s is still actual in Russia today. Such words as "liberal", "democrat" and "marketer" are still used in the Russian language presumably in negative connotation. The attempts to create a positive image of Russia's first president and to separate it from the events happening in the country during his rule bring up Orwell's works.
Analyzing Yeltsin's activities, liberal politicians come to paradoxical conclusions. He was not interfering - that was his biggest achievement. Yeltsin was not interfering with the freedom of mass media. Yeltsin was not interfering with opposition, which had the majority at the Duma, he was not putting obstacles for red governors. Yeltsin never made a step back from the institute of elections as a method for solving power issues.
Taking into consideration the argumentation of these affirmations (many remember how the elections of 1993 and 1996 were held) is it possible to appreciate the actions of the politician who, being in a critical situation, preferred to simply stay away from the decision-making process not to interfere with anything?
Boris Nemtsov made curious remarks about Yeltsin: "He really thought that freedom was better than non-freedom, that free press was more important than the promptly represented censored information. He believed that free election was the foundation of any state. Yeltsin believed that the private sector was working better than the state. I, for example, became a well-known politician in the country and in the world owing to Yeltsin."
It is very easy to say: "I am certain that Yeltsin was a wonderful person in his nature." But we have a politician and the head of state, who is judged by his actions.
Several weeks prior to the 80th anniversary, journalists conducted an online poll. "On February 1st, Russia will mark 80 years since Yeltsin's birthday. A lot will be written and said on the subject. Let's not be emotional, let's just see what positive and good things he had done for Russia." The results of the discussion are shocking: "He put on hold the collapse of Russia. He told regions - take as much independence as you need"; "After the collapse of the USSR, he signed a union treaty with Belarus"; "He supported tennis"; "He politically destroyed communism and the Soviet power."
As a matter of fact, it was Gorbachev and the team of academician Yakovlev, who played a bigger role in the collapse of communism and the Soviet power. Like Yeltsin, they also gave us freedom and democracy and removed the Communist Party from power.
One may say that Yeltsin gave us the market economy, but there was so much lies that came along with it. People were following Yeltsin, who promised them that he would lie down on railroad tracks if prices went up. The architects of market reforms in Russia acknowledged that they did not have the goal of building normal economy in the country.
No one can recall today that Yeltsin defeated the Soviet nomenclature with all its black Volga cars and food privileges. He immediately created the Russian nomenclature with black Mercedes vehicles and million-dollar bank accounts in offshore zones instead.
Perhaps, Yeltsin loved democracy a lot. However, it did not stop him from committing the most horrible terrorist act in Russia's history - the artillery attack on the legitimately elected parliament.
Has Yeltsin done anything good for the country? This extremely important question remains utterly debatable today. Boris Yeltsin was the first President of the Russian Federation. But the Russian history is not limited to the period from 1991 to 2011. There were other statesmen, whose decisions and depositions will inevitably serve as criteria for comparison.