Saturday, November 28, 2015

Yeltsin Center

From the MT:
"New Yeltsin Center to Answer Questions About Russia's 'Wild '90s' Legacy"
The opening of the center devoted to the legacy of Boris Yeltsin, Russia's first president, on Nov. 25 in the Urals city of Yekaterinburg, came on the heels of speculations surfacing among politicians that the notorious presidential elections of 1996, when Yeltsin won in the second round of voting, were conducted with violations and cannot be considered fair. Just two months ago the former Kremlin official Oleg Morozov said in an interview with the news website that in the 1996 presidential elections — when Boris Yeltsin went neck and neck with the Communist candidate — were "solid evidence" that in the "wild '90s" the voting process could easily be manipulated. He echoed the rumor that gripped public attention in 2012, when Russian opposition leaders claimed Dmitry Medvedev, then president, told them during a meeting that Yeltsin wasn't the actual winner of the 1996 elections. The statement was quickly refuted by President Medvedev's spokespeople. "I categorically object to this point of view. The elections were absolutely fair," Naina Yeltsina, the first president's wife, said in an interview with the news website on Nov. 21. "It was impossible to falsify anything. We didn't know the results until the end. Anyone who has doubts can check with the elections protocols, it's all there," she said. While doubts about the legitimacy of Yeltsin's win are yet to be settled, one thing is clear: In 1996 independent media during elections races were replaced with propaganda, said Ivan Kurilla, a historian and professor at the European University in St. Petersburg. "It was then when we said good-bye to the independent journalism that turned into propaganda even on respectable television channels," he told The Moscow Times. This is not the only controversial issue discussed nowadays in relation to Yeltsin's legacy. Russian officialdom has continuously condemned Yeltsin's era, commonly called "the wild '90s," as a dark and unfortunate period of the country's history. At the same time, Russian society doesn't have a univocal evaluation of the 1990s. For some, Yeltsin's years are associated with freedom — both political and economical — that Russia embraced after the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, and some remember this decade as the time when poverty thrived and criminality and corruption blossomed, blaming their forebears for everything that looks unfortunate today. Founders of the Yeltsin Center, a historical and cultural institution, promise not to judge. "[At the center] no one will impose any judgements or appraisals. Everything is designed in order to give visitors willing to reflect on the subject, especially those who doesn't know a lot about it, to see and feel how it was back then," Alexander Drozdov, director of the center, told The Moscow Times. The center, 22,000 square meter large, includes a museum portion and several educational facilities for young visitors that will focus on different sciences. The museum portion is devoted to Russian history in general, from Novgorod princedom to the present day, though the history of the 1990s is exhibited in more detail, with, of course, Yeltsin as a focal point. Part of the exhibition called "The Chechen Tragedy" is devoted to the Chechen wars of the late 1990s, one of the most controversial and harrowing episodes in Russian history. Representatives of the center said they were trying to make the exhibit honest and objective by including the Chechen wars in it. Another large part of it is devoted to the controversial elections of 1996.  The center was founded under a federal law that outlines creating legacy centers devoted to each Russian president at their places of birth and partially funded from the federal budget — according to Drozdov, the center was assigned 4.9 billion rubles ($75 million). Sergei Ivanov, head of the presidential administration, chairs its board, but Drozdov said no one from the Kremlin interfered with the center's work or content of the exhibitions.
^ Yeltsin was once a symbol of change especially when he stood by the tank against the Communist coup in 1991. He then became President of Russia when the Soviet Union collapsed and that's when the billionaires of today started to make their money. The 1990s in Russia was a time of complete chaos. Prices changed constantly. People weren't paid for months on-end. Maffia groups sprang-up across the country. Violence was widespread. That is the real legacy of the 1990s under Yeltsin. Towards the end of his reign he was too drunk to do much of anything and that's when Putin came out of no where and took over. I wonder if the Yeltsin Center will show those realities of the 1990s? ^


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