Get the latest updates as we post them — right on your browser

. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

On Rutskoi: Physician, Heal Thyself

Alexander Rutskoi had a lot to say Wednesday, in his first major statement since his release from prison, about "irresponsible windbags" in politics and the press. Read the fine print, however, and it becomes clear that Rutskoi would rather forget some of the things he himself has said. For in the irresponsible windbag department, Rutskoi is in a class of his own.

At first glance, the former vice president's statement looks like an apologia, calling for civil peace and indirectly recognizing the legitimacy of the new parliament whose election he fought so hard to prevent.

Rutskoi, who led the White House rebellion against Boris Yeltsin, declared himself president and exhorted his followers to storm the Ostankino television tower on the fateful day of Oct. 3, hints at repentance and says there must be no revenge for what he calls "the innocent blood that was spilled."

"I agree," he declares, "that each of us must find inner strength and recognize his own mistakes and respond to parliament's goodwill with the readiness to unite forces in the name of the good of this long-suffering nation, for the sake of the quickest possible end to the prolonged crisis."

But repent he does not. Instead, he finds the inner strength to launch a diatribe against "dishonest politicians and journalists who unleashed through the media a shameful, indecent campaign, exaggerating and distorting the essence of the events of September-October 1993.

"Enough mudslinging at innocent people," Rutskoi thunders, "enough shifting of responsibility away from those truly guilty for the tragedy, frightening society with civil war, attributing to me utterances aimed at destabilizing the situation in the country.

"Come to your senses," he concludes. "Do not whip up hysteria. Hasn't there been enough bloodshed for you?"

There has been enough, and to prevent more it would behoove Rutskoi to stop accusing the media of misquoting him and start taking responsibility for his own words.

Does he, notably, deny today that on Oct. 3 he urged protestors from the White House balcony to storm strategic sites in Moscow? Does he deny that 147 people died in the bloodshed that ensued? Does he seriously see no cause and effect?

His words, recorded by CNN, were: "Young people, combat-ready men, everybody should be forming detachments and we should now attack the Mayor's Office and the Ostankino Television Center! We should assault those two buildings and win!"

This the same man who happily lectures others on not destabilizing the country.

Irresponsible? Yes. A windbag? Worse. For Rutskoi has a following of people who will be taken in by his high-flown rhetoric. He is a dangerous man, and now he is free.