Many people this week have asked me how my household felt about the recent death of Mr. Yeltsin. First of all, let me inform you that we Americans have been pronouncing his name wrong for 2 decades now…it’s “Bahr-eese” Yeltsin, with stress on the second part, not Boris, like Moris the cat.
And next time you need a subject for your inspirational “you can do it!” speaches – Mr. Yeltsin was missing his index and thumb on one hand, yet was still a top volleyball player in college.
My husband and is family have a very high regard for Yeltsin, though there are many Russians that weren’t so happy with him. The hub (we’ll call him Pig from here on) and his family profited greatly with his reforms, despite the rough transition. Yes, Pig did loose thousands of dollars in the ’98 economic collapse, but his family was able to start a very successful business during this era once they took their own initiation to do things and not wait for the government to bring them wealth.
As I stated in a previous post, freedom of speach and political opinion feels very choked lately, whereas anything was see-able, do-able and possible during Yeltson’s 90s, the “Wild Times” as Pig refers to in conversation about his crazy teenage years.
Yeltsin was contradictory – good and bad, sober and drunk, peaceful yet willing to war. These attribute make him, to me, a real leader of Russia. It seems there has been a habit of worshipping or hating a leader, they are either good or bad with no gray area in between. Being a god or satan is not being human. Humans are complex, they do good things, they do stupid things, and they make mistakes. Lenin had god-like status, Putin is getting there, while Stalin was the devil himself. Yelstin was a just a human, and that makes him real.
To sum it up, Pig never had a grandfather, so in his mind Yeltsin became this paternal figure. Kindly smile, caring attitude, but can also drink one too many and end up on the floor.
Here’s a salut to you, grandpa Yelstin!