portrait of Boris Yeltsin
ITAR-TASS photo from www.kremlin.ru (March 1993)

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Quotes of the Day for 1 February 2012 – Boris Yeltsin

Boris Nikolayevich Yeltsin was born in Sverdlovsk Oblast in the USSR on this day in 1931. After high school he focused on construction and rose steadily in both functional and political positions in public works and housing. Frustrated by the speed of reforms he supported, he became the first person ever to resign from the Politburo on 1987. Two years later he was, effectively, the mayor of Moscow supported by 92% of the vote, and as he was in opposition to the Soviet powers those numbers are likely to be valid. He pushed Gorbachev aside and orchestrated the end of the Soviet Union. But reforms didn't work at the rate he called for; privatizing too many state industries left them in the hands of the new oligarchs, ending subsidies of consumer goods devastated the working classes, and corruption became widespread. By the time he left office, Russia's GDP had been cut in half, he had been impeached twice, and his approval rating was estimated at 2%, less than ten years after his triumphant rise to power.

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You will find an expanded profile, photo, additional biographical links, and all quotes from this author on the author's Notable Quotable page.

The quotes:

You can build a throne out of bayonets, but you can't sit on it for very long.

A man must live like a great brilliant flame and burn as brightly as he can. In the end he burns out. But this is far better than a mean little flame.

Dissidents should be paid 13 months' salary for a year, otherwise our mindless unanimity will bring us to an even more hopeless state of stagnation. It is especially important to encourage unorthodox thinking when the situation is critical: At such moments every new word and fresh thought is more precious than gold. Indeed, people must not be deprived of the right to think their own thoughts.

Liberty sets the mind free, fosters independence and unorthodox thinking and ideas. But it does not offer instant prosperity or happiness and wealth to everyone. This is something that politicians in particular must keep in mind.

There are numerous bugbears in the profession of a politician. First, ordinary life suffers. Second, there are many temptations to ruin you and those around you. And I suppose third, and this is rarely discussed, people at the top generally have no friends.

Today is the last day of the past.
     All from Boris Yeltsin, 1931 - 2007

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