The only Russian leader since the fall of the emperial family in 1918 that gained great popularity abroad was Boris Yeltsin. Not in the last place because he had the reputation of a happy drunk. His public appearances while highly intoxicated were simply disarming. Even to the most hardcore Yankees that were still clinging on to the Cold War long after the perestroika. While his politics were often criticized, nobody can deny that this happy drunkard brought East and West a lot closer after decades of distrust.
The examples of Yeltsin’s escapades are numerous. But the best story was revealed in 2009 (2 years after Yeltsin died at the age of 76) as former American president Bill Clinton had his memoires published. Clinton described how his Russian colleague and friend in 1995 got completely wasted when visiting the White House. Apparently he was found outside in his underpants trying to catch a cab because he was in the mood for pizza. You thought a world leader would be so ashamed he’d stay off the booze the next day? Wrong! Not president Yeltsin. The next day he got completely shitfaced again. As he was stumbling in the basement of his guest house the following night, Secret Service agents thought he was a drunken intruder.
A memorable drunken moment in the career of the man who was president of Russia from 1991 till 1999, but for sure not the only one. In 1992 Yeltsin was invited for a state banquet in Kyrgyzstan, that just broke away from the Soviet Union. As usual the Russian president didn’t hold back on the vodka and ended up playing the Kyrgyz president Askar Akayev‘s bald head as a drum, while using spoons as his drumsticks.
A compilation of Boris Yeltsin’s finest moments.
In 1994 Yeltsin went to Germany to see the last Russian troups leave the country after the Cold War. In the presence of the German chancellor Helmut Kohl he got quite drunk at lunch and started his own show. First he took on the role of conductor of the band. A little later he started dancing fanatically in between the thunderstruck German dancers. He blew some kisses to his audience and with a muddled speech he finished this epic appearance. Germany was in shock.
Although Yeltsin is known in Russia as the person who demolished the Soviet Union, who started two wars in Chechnya, who sold huge state owned companies way to cheap to private parties and lost all control over both the Russian mafia and the growing corruption in his country. At least he also made a lot of people smile. In these modern times where politicians are boring nobodies, he was an exception. Yeltsin – as a true Russian – was a big fan of vodka, but also no stranger to beer and champagne. We will always remember him as the happy drunkard.
18 thoughts on “Boris Yeltsin, the Last Drunk World Leader”
The current Czech president, Milos Zeman, might provide you with a lightly entertaining alcoholic statesman. While not in Yeltsin’s league, his alcohol intake and frequent drunkenness in both public and parliament certainly have become talking points in the country.
Oh that does sound good…. Do you have any good stories about him? Links are most welcome! 😀
I’ll try to find some links after work today.
Probably one of his more notorious moments, which embarassed the whole country, was in the wake of Nelson mandela’s death.
The parliamentary session was on TV and they were discussing who should go to South Africa for mandela’s funeral when Zeman piped up and asked “Who’s going to pay for that flight?”
Most people in parliament were stunned by the comment and most people on the street were talking about it for the better measure of a month. Complete national embarassment.
I’ll see if I can find a clip of that session with good English sub titles or at least a reliable transcript of it.
hahahaha yeah that’s a good one. Oh by the way I don’t believe that the actions of one man can cause a national embarassment. We have only idiots in Dutch politics and I don’t feel like I have to defend myself for any of them. 😉
Normally, I think that’s how most Czechs feel.
I think the sense of embarassment came more from the fact that he said it in regards to someone of the stature of Mandela.
Had it been someone else, there probably would have been no embarasment felt.
Yeah I can understand that. Actually I think this is what Americans must have felt like when Bush was still in charge. During his public appearances I always felt like I was watching a “special” person.
unfortunately you are quite right. That guy just made us all his neverending party staff.
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It does look like the senate is getting fed up with his shenanigans though: http://www.radio.cz/en/section/curraffrs/senate-asks-president-to-show-more-restraint-in-his-statements-and-actions
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You should write about Henri IV of France, that was a great drinker (starting to drink wine on his first day of life). And one of the greatest kings in the history as well.
Many Roman and Byzantine Emperors would also fit the qualification (one of the greatest Byzantine Emperors was Michael III the Heavy Drinker who converted Bulgarians to Christianity).
And Humphrey Bogart and Hemingway, of course…
Hmmm these are very nice suggestions, thanks! I will look into their history.
Not at all. I like your way of handling the historical guys.
Perhaps I could even write you about one of them myself =)
Oh sure man… We love to have more guest writers. Here’s the list we had so far: http://lordsofthedrinks.com/drunks-that-made-world-history/
We haven’t written a story on all of them yet. But if you think you can write a nice article on the names you named here before, please be our guest (writer)…
You can also reach me on the e-mail adress firstname.lastname@example.org
This is probably a better way to communicate about these things than where everyone can read it haha
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Borris was truly the last of the great public drunks in this PC world we live in today young folk are kicking themselves that they haven’t lived in a world where a guy like yelsen could walk on to the world stage and be pissed at the same time, proberly the closest to him was the Irish priminister Charlie haughey who was a consumer of whiskey but unlike Yeltsin kept it hidden
Oh yeah… Václav Havel (see link) was a decent one too. I’m not too familiar with Haughey but I’ll look him up. Thanks for the tip!
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