Courtesy Reuters

Boris Yeltsin's rise from the depths of unpopularity to win Russia's presidential election in July is one of the most surprising feats of recent political history. As of January, only six percent of voters planned to support the incumbent-fewer than half the number intending to vote for his main rival, communist leader Gennadi Zyuganov. Yeltsin's victory broke a pattern observable across almost all the postcommunist democracies of Eastern Europe, in which disenchanted voters rejected the first crop of reformers when they stood for reelection. And it confounded the expectations of a long string of early doubters, ranging from Russian and

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