Boris Yeltsin is dead. A giant of a man, we all owe him a debt of gratitude. The first democratically-elected president of Russia, his mounting of a tank to rally the Russian people against the Communists was a seminal moment of modern history.
Soon, though, he became a figure of fun. A heavy drinker, he could be a buffoon. We must not remember him for this, even though I hope he parties on forever.
I can recall another great man who saved his country from tyranny, changed the world for the better, and enjoyed his tipple and could be a buffoon. That man was Winston Churchill. Had our pervasive media been around in his day, would his legend be tarnished?
I hope not; as I hope Boris won’t be. For it is the nature of great men that they are flawed. It is the same mind-set that creates the flaws, and also the greatness. We should remember that.
© Anthony North, April 2007
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