Economic Collapse Gives Russians Some Reason to be Unhappy With Boris Yeltsin

June 06, 2014

The NYT ran an article on the construction of a monument to former Russian President Boris Yeltsin. The piece notes that Yeltsin is not very popular, and therefore there is little interest in the monument, however it never gives much explanation for his unpopularity.

Russia’s economy suffered one of the worst collapses in history during the Yeltsin years. According to the Penn World Tables, Russia’s economy contracted by more than 40 percent between 1990 and 1998, the years in which Yeltsin held power. This is a far sharper drop-off than the United States saw in the Great Depression. During this period the health care system put in place under the Soviet Union largely collapsed and life expectancy plunged.

There was also enormous corruption. According to the World Bank the government received just $8.3 billion for privatizing most of the economy’s assets. This is less than half of the current market capitalization of Twitter.

An article discussing Russian views of Yeltsin should have pointed out these facts.


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