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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

02/22/2000

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NEWS ANALYSIS: The Sobchak Paradox: Democratic, Autocratic

ST. PETERSBURG -- One of the brightest, most charismatic figures in Russia's early democratic years, Anatoly Sobchak was the mayor whose grandiloquent plans never seemed to coalesce; whose term, and seemingly his career, ended with a shocking 1996 defeat at the polls, and then with corruption allegations that chased him into the ignominy of self-imposed exile in Paris. He will be remembered both as a hero - who in 1991 stood by then- President Boris Yeltsin against the ill-fated August coup attempt, and who went on to urge the development of a liberal market economy - and as a scandal-dogged big-city mayor, a man investigated for abuse of power and corruption and criticized for his haughty, autocratic rule. ""He personified the hopes and disappointments of the entire country,"" said Alexander Shishlov, a Yabloko faction State Duma deputy and a frequent opponent of Sobchak's. In 1991, there were three men on the national stage: Yeltsin, Sobchak and Mikhail Gorbachev.

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