Portrait of A Populist

Though Yeltsin can -- and does -- still play a crowd like a virtuoso, he is no brash rabble-rouser

His physical presence never fails to impress. At 6 ft. 4 in., Boris Yeltsin looms over listeners and lecterns, taming audiences of 1 to 100,000. His ramrod-stiff stance, his thick silver hair, his deep, slow voice all suggest a coil of powerful but slow-burning energy. Yet when Yeltsin starts to speak, the effect is not intimidating but mesmerizing, even entertaining. He has the touch of a born orator, able to sense the mood and needs of a crowd and play it for all it's worth. "When I first came into the room," he told a dinner audience high in a Dallas...

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