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The Daily Vertical: I'm Not Yeltsin (Transcript)

  • Brian Whitmore

This is Part 6 of a special Daily Vertical series on Vladimir Putin and the ghosts of Kremlins past. (The views expressed in this commentary do not necessarily reflect the views of RFE/RL.)

Without Boris Yeltsin there never would have been a Vladimir Putin.

Not only did Yeltsin literally hand Putin the keys to the Kremlin, he presided over the corrupt and oligarchic system that allowed him to rise in the first place.

And while Putin's political DNA may have been formed in Yury Andropov's KGB, his political socialization took place in Yeltsin's Russia, in the gangster capitalism of the wild '90s.

But despite the fact that Yeltsin is one of Putin's political godfathers, the current Kremlin leader is determined not to emulate him.

In many ways, Yeltsin's Russia resembled a mafia masquerading as a country, but it was a mafia run by a weak, feeble, and often inebriated godfather.

And as a result, the underbosses, capos, and oligarchs were able to act up with impunity.

Putin's Kremlin also acts like a mafia -- but one with a strong godfather and pliant, loyal, and obedient underbosses.

Yeltsin was the epitome of a frail, ailing, and ageing leader.

Putin goes over the top in cutting an image of being fit, healthy, and vibrant -- a trait best illustrated by his fondness of being photographed topless.

So while Yeltsin may have created the current Kremlin leader, Putin has spent the past 16 years practically shouting from the rooftops: "I am no Boris Yeltsin."

I hope you've enjoyed this special series on Putin and the ghosts of Kremlins past.

The Daily Vertical will now take a two week hiatus as I will be on the conference circuit. We'll resume our regular schedule on Monday October 31.

Until then, keep telling me what you think on The Power Vertical's Twitter feed and on our Facebook page.

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