Boris Yeltsin was the first President of Russia after the collapse of the Soviet Union, from 1991 to 1999. This was a tumultuous time for the Russian people.
Yeltsin came to power on a nationalistic, populist reform ticket. He railed against corruption and government waste, fired hundreds of bureaucrats and sought to turn Russia into a competitive market economy. (Sound familiar?)
In the process, he allowed the wealth of the nation to be privatized and controlled by a small group of oligarchs. By the end of his tenure, during which he enjoyed lavish perks and benefits, his people had suffered serious economic hardship and the country had borrowed $40 billion from the IMF in order to survive.
Yeltsin's military expedition into Chechnya left around 80,000 people dead with nothing to show for it. Meanwhile the Oligarchs prospered (not least from the IMF loan) as they fought each other for power and control over Russia's enormous natural resources.
An alcoholic with a reputation for bizarre behavior, Yeltsin was sometimes .....
... read more