May 01, 2000

Tsar Boris' Firm Handshake

Tsar Boris' Firm Handshake

The era of Boris Yeltsin – ho ruled Russia through the 1990s – eft behind a mixed heritage. Historians will rightfully take their time to issue any final verdicts. Yet, most would agree that one of the indisputable achievements of the “First President of Russia,” is a cementing of Russia’s newly-won freedom of speech. Taking advantage of this gain, we offer a quick analysis of Boris Nikolayevich’s linguistic heritage.

The first “yeltsinism” was just noted. Tsar Boris could not suffer any other title. “Former president” or “Ex-president” was not for him. So the Kremlin PR machine came up with a title that will serve Boris for life: “первый президент России.”

The earliest stages of Yeltsin’s presidential career were especially rich in memorable idioms. One of the first was Yegor Ligachyov’s, “Борис, ты не прав!” (“Boris, you are wrong!”) The phrase actually predates Yeltsin’s tenure as president, to when Boris Nikolayevich was the maverick communist leader of Moscow. But with Yeltsin’s ascension to the Kremlin, it became frequent fodder for headlines and political jokes.

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