Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Three Stars to Yeltsin

There was the expected official silence in Moscow over the anniversary of the defeat of the reactionary coup in 1991.

But others see things differently.

In a remarkable move today, the president of Latvia, Vaira Vike-Freiberga, will honour former Russian president Boris Yeltsin with Latvia's highest honour - the Order of the Three Stars.

The ceremony will take place in the old castle of Riga.

The reason is obvious. Without the courageous stand of Yeltsin during those days, blood might have flowed on the streets of the then Soviet Union, and not the least the Baltic countries.

But instead he defeated the plotters, and went on to recognize the independence of the Baltic nations.

It was when the independence of the three Baltic states was recognized by the Russian Federation that the way was suddenly open for a more general recognition. And there had been an indirect alliance between Yeltsin and the Baltic reformers all through the reform process.

So it's certainly a significant step that is now taken at Riga Castle.

And one worth noting more widely than what so far has been the case.