Boris Nikolayevitch Yeltsin, Russia’s first democratically elected head of state, has died. At least twice in his years of power he begged the Russian people for forgiveness for his failures. The first time was shortly after the attempted coup in August 1991; Yeltsin said to the parents of three men who died in that almost bloodless event, “Forgive me, your President, that I could not defend, could not save your sons.” He wept as he said those words. The last time was in his farewell address in 1999:
“I want to ask you for forgiveness, because many of our hopes have not come true, because what we thought would be easy turned out to be painfully difficult. I ask you to forgive me for not fulfilling some hopes of those people who believed that we would be able to jump from the gray, stagnating, totalitarian past into a bright, rich and civilized future in one go. I myself believed in this. But it could not be done in one fell swoop. In some respects I was too naive.” To read the whole speech, click here:
And spare a prayer for the repose of Yeltsin’s soul, and Russia’s future.