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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Yeltsin Was Lenin's Heir

Recently both television and the newspapers have started to talk about the "second coming" of Boris Yeltsin. His trip to Belarus and meeting with President Alexander Lukashenko were fairly unanimously interpreted as a challenge to President Vladimir Putin.

Having observed Yeltsin's goings-on, I think I have come up with the very national idea that Russia's best and brightest have been racking their brains over for some time. In a nutshell, it is the following: We need to create a society that would rule out the possibility of people such as Yeltsin finding their way into major-league politics.

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Allow me to explain. I once came up with a formula to explain the tragedy of Mikhail Gorbachev's reforms: And Gorbachev said to the people, "Do whatever you like, but just behave yourselves decently." It transpired, however, that all people really wanted to do was to behave badly. In other words, the moment we received the right to vote for the first time in our history, we elected Yeltsin as our president.

Remember what Yeltsin said at the start of his "democratic" career as a result of which his fellow countrymen fell in love with him: The communist exploiters are to blame for all our woes, and we must to strip the nomenklatura of all its privileges and distribute them equitably among the common people. Exactly the same thing was proposed by the Bolsheviks in 1917: The landowner-exploiters and capitalists are to blame for everything, "let us expropriate the expropriators" and hand everything over to the people. Some 70 years later, the citizens of Russia chose themselves exactly the same kind of Bolshevik, only this time they did it in a free election.

Bolshevism is not so much an ideology as it is a temperament and character trait: It is a belief in the idea that the truth has been revealed to you and only you and a willingness to assert your version of the truth even on the bones of your fellow citizens, not stopping at anything, particularly when your power is in danger. The ideological wrapping can in fact be extremely "democratic."

It is worth recalling some of the things we went through under Yeltsin: the bombardment of a legally elected parliament in 1993; completely senseless carnage in Chechnya; economic reform that led to penury and loss of dignity for millions of people; 40 percent support for the Communist candidate in the 1996 presidential election; endless government reshuffles, creating an environment of instability that made it almost impossible for normal businesses to get off the ground; "freedom of speech" that was on sale to the highest bidder; and, lastly, the endless squabbling that was supposed to pass for politics.

In short, Lenin and Mao rolled into one, making some allowances for a general softening of mores toward the end of the 20th century.

We have been living for less than three years without Yeltsin and the country has calmed down, the Communists have been tamed, we respect ourselves once again and are respected internationally.

And then Yeltsin has to go and pop up again with declarations about how he is "a guarantee of stability." And once again people's hearts are filled with worry.

I did not vote for Yeltsin, but I am part of a nation that has the bad habit of sometimes imposing Bolsheviks on themselves. And that is why I am proposing my national idea: the elimination of Bolshevism in all its guises and manifestations.

And the West can render invaluable assistance in this task. Let it shower Yeltsin with respect and esteem and organize for him a series of lecture tours that take up 365 days a year. And the further away from Russia the better.

Alexei Pankin is the editor of Sreda, a magazine for media professionals [www.internews.ru/sreda].