Cultural Learnings Of… Boris Yeltsin

Not much has been happening in the last few days, just hanging out in Tartu with my friends, going to the club, having waterpipe, climbing over the arched bridge at 3am, regular cultural activities of this town 🙂 The student days festival starts tomorrow and everyone is excited, its like O Week on crack.. crazy estonian crack. Ive been back into the studies of the Estonian language too, its tripping me out, get this… nouns and adjectives can have up to 14 different endings all depending on how its used in the sentences… so the word "ilm" which means weather may be used as: ilma, ilmasse, ilmust, imalt and ilmani to name only a few. This doesnt change the reading of words so much, just look to the start of the word to try and identify it but it can throw off hearing and I cant even imagine speaking… I guess thats why only 1 million people in the WORLD (maalim) speak it. its close to Finnish and when im there I can understand some words but beyond that its totally different to both their Russian neighbours to the east and the Latvians to the south.

Following on from my long winded and factually incorrect explanation of Russian leaders a few weeks ago, another great Russian leader of our time, Boris Yeltsin passed away yesterday, apparently of a heart attack. I have this thing these days, that no matter what the cause, I get suspicious of high profile people dying in Russia… it makes me think Putin is up to something else. However, Yeltsins heart was in pretty bad shape; if you had withstood an attempted coup by the Red Army and overseen the dismantlement of the USSR, your ticker would be a bit worse for wear too.

I think its easy for non Europeans or indeed non Russians to think of Boris as somewhat of a comical figure. I think along with Bill Clinton he presented the world with the final defrosting of the cold war, the two leaders of the most powerful countries now being charismatic and comfortable with the media. You might also say Boris was too charismatic… that charisma coming out after a few too many Vodkas… a fate which was to be his downfall in his later days… but come on! If Bob Hawke, can hold a WORLD beer drinking record AND be a Rhodes Scholar AND appear on a country practice AND still be one of OUR most loved leaders to this day, we can appreciate how a world leader doesnt always need to be a stuffy old fart.

To put it in perspective, Boris came after Mihail and he did do a lot of good things. He finally sealed the deal with dismantled the communist rule in the USSR and brought in democracy and a free market. Now has democracy and a free market been good for Russia… well yes but its going to take generations.. he also presided over the "letting go" of the Baltic states, so in a way Boris is to thank for the setting I sit in today. If he hadnt peacefully given up these formerly occupied zones who knows how it would have turned out but Im pretty sure that none of them would have been good.

Im the first to admit I dont actually REALLY know any Russian people, or indeed have even been to Russia, so what the hell do I know about all of this, but my feeling, from reading reports and talking to whoever I can whenever I can is that Boris isnt remembered as such the fantstic man inside of Russia. He signed the deal to bring apart the USSR and while it was bad communism, there are many who long for the old days. Post USSR things arnt all rosy democracy for Russia and are going to take time to work out.. but people see Boris as the source of this pain. Also he was the first to send the Red Army down to Chechnya, losing tens of thousands of soldiers in the first years of the conflict. The landscape was too harsh and the local guerrillas got one up on the supposed greatest army in the world and then Boris had to sign a ceasefire with them… ohhh thats embarrasing

But lets remember Boris for the nice guy he was who lets face it, had a bloody hard job. And after doing your bloody hard job, if you cant have a few Wodkas and then get on the stage and have a boogie, then what has this world come to? Hot diggity I love this video so much, I could watch it all day.

By Louis Zezeran

Louis Zezeran is an Australian Stand Up comedian and comedy promoter based in Tallinn, Estonia. He was the co-founder of Comedy Estonia, Comedy Finland and Comedy Latvia. Louis writes, does gigs and performs at private events through the Baltics and Finland

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