A well-connected and insightful Russia-watching friend had the following to say about Boris Yeltsin vis-a-vis his handpicked successor, Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin:
"Whatever he(Yelstin) actually did, in his ham-handed way; and whatever happened by accident on his watch, or even in spite of his actions was more to the benefit of the country than whatever VVP has done deliberately, in the name of "progress" and "democracy". The sad thing (and this is perpetually the problem with Russians and Russia) is that the people have very short attention spans, memories and even patience; and they have always cared very little for the intangibles, like open borders and a free press. What most will remember Yeltsin for is the debacle with privatization (they don't realize that they have Chubais to thank for that) and the resulting inequities in society (the birth of the oligarchs).
I also think that poor, often drunk and sick BN was jerked around by a coterie of arrogant, unscrupulous types (including his daughter) who took advantage of the situation and made matters even worse. Unfortunately, Putin's blanket pardon of BN and his family (why he did that defies reason) has put all of them effectively beyond the pale of punishment. And a bunch of them are still grabbing what they can, and with both hands (Chernomyrdin, Borodin, etc.).
The fact remains, however, that, any thinking individual would always choose the chaos, mess of a Yeltsin era over the order, discipline of the Putin one. The operative word here is "thinking". And we've all been told too many times that Russians prefer "feeling" over "thinking"..."
Amen, amen, amen!