In a PBS documentary, Putin's revenge, the following is said at around 10m15s by Strobe Talbott.

Before Boris Yeltsin died, he told intimates that it was a great mistake to have selected Putin as a successor.

From narration it looks like Boris Yeltsin told the above to his intimates at the end of his life and didn't say it publicly. But do we have any other accounts or sources that confirm Boris Yeltsin saying so? And did he said so at any other time before or publicly anywhere?

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    This is going to be impossible to verify as all we have is their words which will most certainly be impossible to verify through other sources at this time.
    – Joe W
    Jan 10, 2023 at 16:46
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    @JoeW - Yes , let's hope someone will dig more deeper and will come out with something or perhaps it's quite possible that someone will get a hint from some Russian sources like books or biographies etc. Jan 10, 2023 at 16:50
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    Yelstins daughter has said something like this.
    – convert
    Jan 10, 2023 at 17:00
  • The problem is what source will those books and biographies use? If all all points back to the people he told how do you verify it?
    – Joe W
    Jan 10, 2023 at 17:19
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    I think it is at least safe to say Putin did not turn out to be what Yeltsin expected. The original rationale for choosing Putin was that he's a quiet, unassuming, consensus candidate who won't piss off anyone in the establishment. It's the same reason Gorbachev was chosen as leader, but Putin turned out quite differently. Jan 11, 2023 at 13:31

2 Answers 2


According to this article in a Russian source he did regret the decision:

Yeltsin regrets that he gave power to Putin

Less than a year later, former President Yeltsin regretted handing over the reins of government to Putin. And, oddly enough, the reason for this was not some kind of foreign policy or domestic political mistake, but ... dissimilarity of musical tastes. According to the first president, "such things are not joked about." In an interview with Komsomolskaya Pravda, Yeltsin said that he regretted that he shifted responsibility for solving a number of issues to his successor Putin. In particular, Yeltsin was referring to the adoption of a new state symbol of Russia, as well as questions about the burial of Lenin's body and the prohibition of the Communist Party.

In vain the coast, it turns out, it would have been better to do everything himself then," Yeltsin laments now. But what confuses him the most is the activities of the current president, Putin. According to him, Putin is becoming a symbol of the Communists. And Boris Nikolaevich is most upset because he "unnecessarily shifted responsibility to the future president." It would be better to appoint Chubais, Yeltsin believes, because he always speaks very correctly. For example, regarding the anthem, Chubais "well said that the president of the country should not blindly follow the mood of the people."

By dissimilarity of musical tastes is meaned the return of the Soviet anthem, which was banned by Yeltsin as a relic of the Stalin era.

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    Unlike Lukashenko's statement, this one is from 2000, when Yeltsin was still alive. And the source is rather trustworthy.
    – anemyte
    Jan 11, 2023 at 14:34
  • It might be surprising to know that artistic tastes are correlated to politics. Jan 11, 2023 at 15:29
  • @user253751 Musical tastes is not the same as artistic tastes.
    – convert
    Jan 11, 2023 at 16:50
  • @convert music is a form of art Jan 16, 2023 at 17:34
  • @user253751 Was your coment some kind of question about what was meaned by that tastes?
    – convert
    Jan 16, 2023 at 21:02

Just for the start , although I don't know how credible it is , but I Just found one article published in runews24.ru which is shading some light on the topic.

The main focus of the article is Disagreements between Mr. Putin and Mr. Yeltsin.

It looks like that Mr Yeltsin was also not satisfied by Putin's policies.

Putin's adviser Valentin Yumashev said that Yeltsin was dissatisfied with the fact that Putin had abandoned his liberal course - in particular in economic policy.

The site is referring to an interview of Alexander Lukashenko

given by himself to Ukrainian journalist Dmitry Gordon ( according to the memoirs of Lukashenko).

During an interview Alexander Lukashenko said Ukrainian journalist Dmitry Gordon that Russian President Boris Yeltsin regretted choosing Vladimir Putin as his successor.

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    This makes it sound like Yeltsin wanting even more empire building with power projection, whereas first Putin terms were more isolationist
    – alamar
    Jan 10, 2023 at 22:04
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    It's a strange quotation - what does the maintenance of military bases have to do with liberal economic policy? Those ellipses in the middle suggest something has been missed out.
    – Stuart F
    Jan 11, 2023 at 14:36
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    Downvoted as the edit to the quote highlight the Q&A is made in bad faith - Yeltsin didn't have any extraordinary foresight on how Putin would turn out, and as per the quote he only "regretted" appointing Putin because Putin rolled back some of Yeltsin policies and experimented with his own new policies.
    – sfxedit
    Jan 17, 2023 at 16:03

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