El héroe de su tiempo

Borís Yeltsin fue absolutamente excepcional. Fue el primer dirigente de Rusia elegido democráticamente y también el primer dirigente ruso que cedió el poder voluntaria y constitucionalmente a un sucesor, pero también fue un dirigente ruso profundamente característico. Pedro el Grande, Catalina la Grande, Alejandro II, Peter Stolypin (primer ministro del último zar), Lenin y Stalin, recurriendo, todos ellos, a diversas combinaciones de carisma, habilidad política y terror, intentaron hacer de Rusia no sólo una gran potencia militar, sino también una igual, económica y culturalmente, de Occidente.

Yeltsin aspiró al mismo objetivo, pero sobresale de entre ellos en un sentido: entendió que el imperio era incompatible con la democracia y, por esa razón, estuvo dispuesto a abandonar a la Unión Soviética para intentar construir un orden democrático en su país.

En el momento culminante de la carrera de Yeltsin, muchos rusos se identificaron con su franqueza, impulsividad y susceptibilidad ante las ofensas e incluso con su debilidad por el alcohol y, sin embargo, en los últimos años de su gobierno, su reputación se desplomó. Sólo en los últimos meses de su segundo mandato presidencial, después de lanzar la segunda guerra en Chechenia en septiembre de 1999, recuperaron cierta legitimidad él y sus lugartenientes ante el público ruso, al tiempo que causaban repugnancia entre muchos de los admiradores occidentales que les quedaban.

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