Yeltsin Putin, President Yeltsin, Russia discussed on Throughline



The year is nineteen ninety nine or is Yeltsin has been ruling over Russia for the last seven years or so but his health is failing and he's just barely won reelection recently faced impeachment and he's alienated has parliament and government. He realizes he can't hold onto power for long mhm but he also knows just how much government has stolen from the Russian people. Russia's President Yeltsin has done it again second his entire government and plunging engine his country into crisis and he's worried that the next president. We'll try to hold him and his quote Unquote family accountable. So he needs to find successor who he can trust who better than a guy who just a few years earlier took extreme measures to cover up for his boss and so- Yeltsin picks in out of relative obscurity to be Russia's next prime minister hoping that if all goes according to plan and that's a big if he might become the next president Push was really. I think the last desperate throwing the dice by the Yeltsin family because they were facing impeachment pitchman the Duma. The Russian parliament was really fed up with the way to come should be wrong and the corruption of the Yeltsin inner circle again. We're Lucas for people. Oh really going off to him and you know they tasted blood already and so I think what happened was that the Yeltsin family turned to Putin as a former KGB guy and and say can you fix it but he still had a problem. Russia was a democracy and so Putin had to be legitimately elected as president and at that point pretty much there's no one inside Russia or outside Russia Psalm as a potential world leader I mean people in the US State Department could barely believe yet even been chosen as prime minister in the first place. I remember getting a call in the early morning From the State Department telling me that this had been the President Yeltsin's choice and I you know I laughed out loud the idea that this seeming nobody could be appointed. Prime Minister of the Russian Federation was astonishing to me and my colleagues but one thing we were pretty sure of was. This guy wasn't GonNa last at this point S. skepticism meet cents cents for outsiders. Putin's rise came out of nowhere and it didn't seem like he'd last cease Asana Vich told us about the first time he met Putin when he was working in the State Department during the Clinton years he was then very new on the job. He was very unsure of himself hesitant but ingratiating he obviously really wanted to make a good impression on the president of the United States He was clearly very conscious of being not only a newcomer to a high politics but much shorter than Bill Clinton and you could tell just the physical presence of Clinton somewhat uncomfortable comfortable and what did Clinton think of him I mean Clinton afterwards said he liked him. He said he's so Russian. I remember being a little surprised by this because because I could tell what Putin was trying to do was not seem Russian He was trying to seem German competent impressive professional. All in contrast to Yeltsin. Who Clinton was used to dealing with? I also told Madeleine Albright after the meeting that he seemed to me a little rodent like you know a small animal with a big nervous beating ours but You know the next. It's time we saw him the next time they saw him. Well we'll get to that. Let's just say he doesn't Seem rodent-like for long. See The thing that most people didn't realize the time was that Yeltsin and Putin were willing to do anything to get him elected. It's a devastating scene. The whole midsection midsection of the building is gone. All that's left. Some apartments are decorative rugs on speculation that the explosion was not an accident yet so celebrity slash cities attack and plush securities searching. Obviously a series of bombs. Go off an apartment government buildings across Moscow then symbols. An apartment woman is a couple of seats. But of course Moss Gore was the most important one with US Elsa two hundred plus people were killed and more than one thousand were injured. A Yes sky. this Sui Ski. I'm a historian I was born in Russia. moved to the United States and Yuri was immediately suspicious. The Russian government's explanation about who was behind the bombings. No government claims as this was done by kitchen. Terrorists what. I usually for people to believe because because it would have been the first time just a few years earlier. Chechens declared independence and Russia invaded Chechnya. In response in what became the first Chechen war the result hundreds of thousands of Chechen were either killed or leftists place but after the one thousand nine hundred nine bombings take place. It wasn't as easy to blame. Chechens because something strange happens in the town not not far from Moscow. Terse were arrested Wednesday were trying to foot explosive cintos Abasement Guan Guan of the apartment houses and this was immediate the broadcast by all mation. You Stations Zain Harsha. And when militia tried to investigate who those people are found out that our officers off say FSB and to Death Mormon the essential FSBA office in Moscow made a statement onset as uh spill not terrorists and indeed. This was an exercise conducted by the government It's the same day. Twenty seventh of September the Russian government started to bomb Grozny and actually started the second Chechen was a same day day and at that point. You're he had seen enough so we hopped on a plane to Russia to start investigating in person. Well fest full not a single person new houses. I I downsize Completely alone in absolute secrecy. You and I met many different people Some of them a happened to be a former KGB officers he started to suspect something big was going on that maybe Yeltsin and Putin saw political opportunity and all this His theory was that Yeltsin Putin. FSP were all conspiring to get Putin elected by manufacturing a war because remember it was going to be really difficult to get Putin elected. We did so. They needed a way to make them look heroic in presidential so Yuri thought that it was the FSBA who planted the bombs those apartment buildings and a Yeltsin and use as the fallout. As an excuse to start a second war with Chechen. And when I had general pitch or what's going on I approach the only person from there I be whom I you and who might trust Alexander Litvinenko. who was a high-ranking high-ranking FSBA officer a real insight I ask you one question nos useless plausible but in September of ninety nine at occur of officers will receive this order to blow up militants and was able to do this and litwin and the told me that Uh of course at I mean? I shouldn't have any doubts that gives this auto would be given then of course knows they will do it. The because goes up the Swazi. Too Quick side note live in Yengo was already in trouble with the government because a year before before he met Yuri he and some other. FSP officers went public with some damaging information about the FSP information that revealed deep corruption. As as a result he was arrested and later released and this was all when Putin was still the head of the F. S. B. C. The security services in Russia were tight knit group they did not tolerate dissent. Lengthy Yanko was clearly fed up enough so that he was willing to put himself and his family in danger to help prove what yeary suspected that Putin and the FSBA were behind apartment bombings so the stakes were high for Bianco and your new it and the left point I told him revile. We'll do consider escaping from Russia..

Coming up next