Cultural Revolutions

"New Russia"

Boris Yeltsin appeared on the Russian state-run television networks on December 31, 1999, with an unexpected—by ordinary Russians, at least—announcement: "It is time for new faces," said the man who is most responsible for creating the "new Russia." "I am resigning," croaked the dipsomaniac political boss, renowned for his mastery of elite political intrigues and hated by the "other Russia" of one-legged war veterans left without pensions, ancient crones begging in the streets, and patriots shamed by the humiliation of their country through the corruption of the president's entourage, the "family." Yeltsin offered a Clintonesque apology for any "mistakes" made during his eight-year reign; though his intentions were good, he was perhaps "naive " to think that there would not be a few rocky patches on the road to the new Russia. In the West, Yeltsin's departure was accompanied by cynical crowing about the "Father of Russian Democracy" and the "end of an era" (though the sighs of relief were audible as well). While Yeltsin's resignation was certainly the end of something, just what came to an end will probably not become clear until after the early presidential elections scheduled for March 26.

Chronicles readers were the first in the West to learn of Yeltsin's possible early retirement (see