According to Yeltsin confidante Mikhail Kasyanov, Yeltsin came to regret his trust in Putin.
Kasnayov has the inside story on Yeltsin and Putin in his new book, “After Putin”:
Kasyanov describes how Putin had Yeltsin isolated at his dacha on account of his frail health. (Same as Stalin had Lenin isolated—ironically, in the same Moscow suburb).
“He (Yeltsin) finally realized that he lives like a prisoner in a gilded cage. Realizing that was a real tragedy to him,” Kasyanov says. “I called him. He was quite angry…Said: ‘They tap all the phones. It’s hard to see all this happening around me’…I Last saw him in the fall of 2006, when Yeltsin…was in the hospital. They didn’t let anybody visit him, but he insisted on seeing me…Boris Nikolayevich strongly recommended then, that I should keep changing my phones constantly to avoid tapping. ‘Buy many inexpensive phones, so that you wouldn’t grudge disposing them. Take one, make a call—and throw it out. Then, take another one, make another call—and throw it out!’ He got so excited that he started gesticulating to show how such ‘compromised’ phones should be thrown out the car window.”
Kasyanov says that Yeltsin approved his siding with the opposition, although the First Russian President couldn’t publicly endorse him, as he feared for his family.
“He realized that everything he had placed on the altar of the democratic society was being destroyed by the very man, whose ascent to power he assured. Disenchantment with that man came hard on him.”
Perilous times. Yeltsin, who risked life and limb to claim a free Russia in 1991, was president until 1999, when he resigned and chose Putin as acting president. Then Putin was elected in 2000. Yeltsin died in 2007.
The Jamestown Foundation says Kasnayov is right to condemn Yeltsin’s support for Putin, but wrong to conclude Yeltsin should have endorsed Kasnayov instead. The Foundation says the choice should not have been tied to an endorsement by Yeltsin or any elite. It should have been left to a system of free elections giving the choice to the Russian people.
Today, with Putin buying control of virtually every Russian political party, the Russians are left with a choice between Putin and a Putin puppet. While Russia struggles to correct this mistake, all its freedoms are at risk.