A Populist Speaks His Mind

``...The lesson we have learned during these 70 years is a difficult one. We have had victories, as Mikhail Sergeyevich (Gorbachev) said, but we have also had to learn our lesson, the lesson of very severe defeats. These defeats occurred gradually, due to a lack of collective spirit, due to factions, because the power in the Party was concentrated in one pair of hands, and because he, a single person, was protected against any and all criticism.'' Boris Yeltsin speaking privately before the Central Committee on Oct. 21, 1987, as quoted in the Soviet monthly Izvetiya TSK KPSS this winter. (The speech led to Mr. Yeltsin's ouster.) ``...The situation in the country is extremely alarming. Anti-restructuring forces have become more active, they are consolidating. The black market and corruption are developing fast, crime is on the increase, society's moral values are being undermined. ... The stratification of society according to property status is becoming deeper. The principles of social justice and equality are not being implemented. The number of the poor is growing. Soviet people's faith in the real results of restructuring is waning....

Comrades, the promised program and the promises over four years have not been fulfilled. People's lives have become worse. In my opinion, such are the political appraisals of the current moment, and the certain degree of self-criticism in Comrade Gorbachev's report does not relieve him of responsibility for all of this....'' Yeltsin before Congress of People's Deputies, broadcast on Soviet television on May 31, 1989.

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