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    Tuesday, April 24, 2007

    Yeltsin spurns the Communists one final time

    So Boris Yeltsin will be buried at the Novodevichy cemetary, not along the Kremlin walls. It's a fitting resting place - alongside dissident writers like Mikhail Bulgakov, rebellious figures like General Alexander Lebed, and Nikita Khrushchev, the Soviet leader who denounced Stalinism and was never forgiven by his peers in the Politburo.

    It's a lot more fitting for the man who broke the USSR than the row of "heroes" graves behind Lenin's tomb on Red Square. I'm not sure Boris Nikolaevich would have slept well beside Stalin and Brezhnev.

    For those who are interested, I'll be narrating some of the coverage of the funeral on CTV Newsnet tomorrow.

    The struggle to define how Yeltsin should be remembered is already on. Liberal leaders like Boris Nemtsov have been quick to recall Yeltsin as the hero who stood up to the hard-line coup attempt in 1991, bringing about the fall of the Soviet Union. "We should fight for freedom in the memory of Boris Yeltsin because there is none left now," he told The Moscow Times.

    More subtly, the Kremlin-run Itar-TASS news agency is emphasizing Yeltsin's later years as a bumbling, often drunk, figure. It's telling that only Putin is quoted in the story, reminding Russians that Yeltsin asked him to "take care of Russia."

    The turnout and the tenor at the funeral tomorrow will be interesting to see.

    1 comment:

    Patrick Meehan said...

    I wonder whose decision it was for Yeltsin to be buried there?

    Was it in his will, did Putin and the political elite make the call, or was it family?