Pickled Yeltsin

I’ve always had a soft spot for Boris Yeltsin for his courage in standing up at a critical juncture to bring democracy to Russia and draw down the curtain on the Soviet empire; that alone will earn him a righteous place in the history books. Sad to say, though, Yeltsin’s second act as head of state had a lot to do with the conditions that have led to democracy’s long, slow demise in Russia; the man was just not cut out to run a country. A new book on the Clinton Administration has a telling anecdote:

Boris Yeltsin’s late-night drinking during a visit to Washington in 1995 nearly created an international incident. The Russian president was staying at Blair House, the government guest quarters. Late at night, Clinton told Branch, Secret Service agents found Yeltsin clad only in his underwear, standing alone on Pennsylvania Avenue and trying to hail a cab. He wanted a pizza, he told them, his words slurring.
The next night, Yeltsin eluded security forces again when he climbed down back stairs to the Blair House basement. A building guard took Yeltsin for a drunken intruder until Russian and U.S. agents arrived on the scene and rescued him.

In the Soviet era, one imagines that the head of state would have been better protected from himself by his own security.

2 thoughts on “Pickled Yeltsin”

  1. Wow, how disgraceful, a head of state partially undressed, acting inappropriately near the White House during the Clinton years……..these things write themselves.

  2. Given the state of the USSR at that time, I would have been drinking, too. I wonder if he got his pizza.

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