Yeltsin was disappointed in Putin: ex-chief of staff
The former chief of staff for Boris Yeltsin said on Tuesday that the late Russian president in his later years became disappointed with his hand-picked successor Vladimir Putin.
The rare comments from Valentin Yumashev, Yeltsin's former chief of staff and son-in-law, came as Russia marks the anniversary of the birth of Russia's first democratically-elected leader who would have turned 80 on Tuesday.
Speaking in a wide-ranging interview with the Moskovsky Komsomolets newspaper and choosing his words carefully, Yumashev indicated Yeltsin had become disillusioned with Putin in his later years.
Asked if Yeltsin had been "disappointed" in Putin, Yumashev said: "I won't say that it's not true."
"No doubt we have tendencies that would have upset Boris Nikolayevich and are upsetting us," said Yumashev, who married one of Yeltsin's two daughters, Tatyana.
"I think he would have thought: with the resources and opportunities that exist now, with those favourable economic conditions Russia found itself in, Russia could have done more than it did."
Yeltsin dramatically resigned on New Year's Eve in 1999 handing the country to Putin, whose 2000-2008 presidency was marked by tighter state control on society and a worsening of Russia's relations with the West.
Publicly, Yeltsin famously preferred to refrain from criticism of Putin, who is now prime minister. Yamashev said Yeltsin could not publicly criticise a man he considered "his political son, his project, his child."
"Imagine that you have a company which took 10 years to create," said Yumashev.
"You spent ages painfully looking for a successor. You find him. But even if you think that he did something differently from the way you would have done it, would you criticise him?" Yumashev said.
Yeltsin thought resigning and handing over the country to Putin on New Year's Eve would be a "beautiful gesture," Yumashev said.
"This idea that a new man will become the head of the country on the eve of 2000, precisely on New Year's, seemed a madly beautiful idea to him," said Yumashev.
"When he first told me about it, his eyes shone."
© 2011 AFP