A Miracle Wrapped in Danger

Democracy has come to Russia, but the imperfect and fragile system must still achieve three revolutions at once

- "It's winter here," said Boris Yeltsin to Bill Clinton in a telephone conversation just after the U.S. election. "And you know, winter is always hard for us."

The President of Russia was not just talking about the weather; he was acknowledging a force of history. The Romanovs' throne, Alexander Kerensky's provisional government and Mikhail Gorbachev's Soviet Union all came crashing down when the snows were swirling, the days were cold and the nights were long. In each case the implications for the world -- and the U.S. -- were immense.

Now it is Yeltsin's turn to contend with the conspiring...

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