I start my hell raising tribute with Boris Yeltsin, that old Russian leader back in the day who always seemed to be pished as a fart. Boris was fun; he looked like an old uncle, the kind that would always embarrass in Christmas time, but a lovely guy all the same. Russia has the much scarier Putin now, a man who oozes toughness (with arguable homo erotic issues) and is kind of a decent alternative to Obama’s ineptitude and classless mannerisms. (a selfie during a commemoration, feck off).
Boris Yeltsin, born February 1, 1931, was the first freely elected President of Russia. Following the attempted coup to oust Gorbachev in August 1991, Boris Yeltsin’s political standing greatly increased when he led the protesters who defeated the coup, and following the break-up of the Soviet Union in December 1991 he remained in power as president of the Russian Federation. As a leader he wasn’t the best, he bombed the shit of Chechnya, and lost it, and corruption was pretty rife and prices rose under his governance, but hell that’s politics.
But if you asked the average Joe on the street about Boris he would reminisce about his legendary drink induced antics.
The time he got so drunk on a state visit to Washington in 1995 to visit Bill Clinton that he was found standing outside the White House in is underpants trying to get a taxi to head out and buy him a pizza. The next night he was mistaken for a drunken intruder stumbling around the basement of his guest house trying to figure out how to get back to bed after a few to many. Imagine what would have happened if the secret service had taken him out!
Or the time he thought he was a conductor of a military orchestra on a visit to Berlin in 1994. He was meant to be overseeing the last Russian troops going home that were stationed in Germany after WWII. Boris was drinking since midday, and when he found himself in front of an orchestra he just couldn’t resist in trying to be a conductor, grabbing the baton, dancing like he was in a boy band, and singing as bad.
When he went to Sweden in 1997 for a conference on nuclear weapons, he kicked off proceedings by having a champagne lunch, waffling on about Swedish meatballs and how they looked like the tennis star Bjorn Borg, and trying very hard not to fall off stage for the pre arranged photo shoot. Telling everyone how pleased he was to be in Finland, as you can imagine, didn’t go down to well either. Good man Boris.
Also the small details of him proclaiming to cut Russia’s nuclear capability by a third without actual telling anybody back home, and telling Germany and Japan to get rid of their non existent nuclear weapons were slight blunders he could have done without.
In Ireland all the local dignitaries were looking splendid in their shiny suits waiting for the leader of Russia to arrive in Shannon airport. Its not every day the head of such a great nation as Russia comes into town. The plane landed.
And they waited. And waited. And waited a bit more. This went on for a few hours. Then the plane left. This was all carried live on Irish TV, showing Albert Reynolds, head of the Irish government hanging around in the pissing rain, while Boris was on the plane getting pissed. Don’t blame him, made the right choice as well
Boris Yeltsin died at the age of 76, on April 23, 2007, in Moscow, Russia. Considering that the average life expectancy, at that time, for a Russian male was 58 he didn’t do too badly after all!. He will be remembered as the leader of a Russia opening up to economic and political reforms, and a booze hound.
We salute you Boris Yeltsin