The Revival

  • Share
  • Read Later
A year ago, most pundits and talking heads repeated different versions of the same analysis: Boris Yeltsin was finished. Critics of Yeltsin's administration cited ill health, rumors of alcoholism, an unpopular war in Chechnya, vast public dissatisfaction with the state of reforms and increasingly tough economic times. But in the past few months, Yeltsin transformed himself from an ailing recluse to a populist dynamo. He bulldogged his way through campaign stops and photo ops, dancing at a pop concert with fierce, arm-pumping concentration in one memorable moment. "With new advisors like former privatization minister Anatoly Chubais, and NTV head Igor Malashenko finally telling him some unvarnished truths, Yeltsin began to react to conditions in the country," says Donnelly. "It does not take a genius to realize Russians are disgusted by the poverty, corruption and crime." Over the course of his campaign, Yeltsin promised different constituencies a sum totalling more than the Russia's 1996 GDP, and last week he paid uncompensated teachers with $1 billion he acquired by raiding the Central Bank's currency reserves. He and his cohorts kept up an unrelenting barrage of anticommunist rhetoric, prophesying that civil war and general catastrophe would accompany a Communist win. "Many voters were apprehensive," says Donnelly. "They feared that a Zyuganov victory would mean another round of changes, and upheavals. Most Russians are tired of changes and revolutions, and see that under Yeltsin, instability has receded." -->