Der Held seiner Zeit

Boris Jelzin war vollkommen einzigartig. Als Russlands erster demokratisch gewählter Machthaber war er auch der erste russische Präsident, der seine Macht freiwillig und verfassungsgemäß an einen Nachfolger abgab. Doch war er auch ein äußerst typischer russischer Machthaber. Mithilfe unterschiedlicher Mischungen von Charisma, Staatskunst und Terror versuchten sowohl Peter der Große, Katarina die Große, Alexander II., Pjotr Stolypin (der letzte Premierminister des Zaren), Lenin als auch Stalin, Russland nicht nur zu einer großen Militärmacht zu machen, sondern auch zu einem wirtschaftlich und kulturell ebenbürtigen Pendant des Westens.

Jelzin strebte dasselbe Ziel an. Doch hebt er sich in folgender Hinsicht von ihnen ab: Er hatte verstanden, dass ein Imperium mit Demokratie unvereinbar war, und war daher bereit, die Sowjetunion für den Versuch aufzugeben, in seinem Land eine demokratische Ordnung aufzubauen.

Auf dem Höhepunkt der Karriere Jelzins identifizierten sich viele Russen mit seiner Grobheit, impulsiven Art, seiner Empfindlichkeit gegenüber persönlichen Kränkungen und sogar mit seiner Schwäche für Alkohol. Dennoch ging es mit seinem Ruf in den letzten Amtsjahren steil nach unten. Erst in den letzten Monaten seiner zweiten Amtszeit als Präsident, nachdem er im September 1999 den zweiten Tschetschenienkrieg begonnen hatte, gewannen er und seine Leutnants in den Augen der russischen Öffentlichkeit einen Teil ihrer Legitimität zurück, während sie bei den verbliebenen westlichen Bewunderern Abscheu auslösten.

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