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Gennadiy Burbulis, top Yeltsin aide and official, dies in Baku

20 June 2022 [16:34] - TODAY.AZ

By Azernews

By Vugar Khalilov

Gennadiy Burbulis, 76, a prominent advisor to former Russian President Boris Yeltsin, died in Baku on June 19, Azernews reports.

The former deputy prime minister helped Yeltsin negotiate and sign the 1991 deal that culminated in the Soviet Union's formal breakup.

Burbulis died while relaxing in a sauna in one of the hotels in Baku, Azerbaijan's capital, where he was attending an international conference.

According to Burbulis' spokesman, Andrei Markov, the politician died abruptly in Azerbaijan.

"He was not ill, was feeling fine and had just taken part in the IX Global Baku Forum, which discussed 'Threats to the global world order,'" Markov told Interfax.

An official statement on the cause of death has not yet been made.

“Another of the key persons in the European transformation has left us. Burbulis was influential as few others in breaking with the Soviet past and trying to build a new and democratic Russia,” Swedish diplomat Carl Bildt tweeted Sunday.

Burbulis played a key role in leading the new post-Soviet Russian state as secretary of state and first deputy chairman of the government from 1991 to 1992.

He was a signatory for Russia, along with Yeltsin, to the agreement to dismantle the Soviet Union agreed on December 8, 1991, with the presidents of Ukraine and Belarus. The treaty was signed in the Belovezha forest, which is now part of Belarus.

Burbulis is the third significant person in the accord to die in recent weeks. In May, both former Ukrainian President Leonid Kravchuk and former Belarusian President Stanislav Shushkevich died.

Since Russia's military campaign in Ukraine began in February, aspirations for peaceful cohabitation among the three former Soviet republics have been crushed. In a televised address at the time, Russian President Vladimir Putin stated that the Soviet collapse was the result of "historic, strategic mistakes" made by Communist leaders.

“It is impossible to restore the USSR. This is nonsense and utopia,” Burbulis said on the sidelines of the Global Baku Forum.

The war in Ukraine received the most attention at the discussion, which reviewed current concerns on the global agenda. In this regard, it should be highlighted that Russia was represented at the forum by a few persons, one of whom attempted not to stick out, which drew even more attention to himself.

Burbulis sought to avoid interacting with forum users and avoided engaging with media in any manner possible. Perhaps because the talks at the event were overflowing with pro-Ukrainian rhetoric, or perhaps because Burbulis represented an entirely other Russia in Baku. He was no longer powerful and aged much, and Russia is no longer the same!

Gennadiy Burbulis's personality is widely known and requires no introduction to anybody who is familiar with Russia's political life around the turn of the millennium. The politician was Boris Yeltsin's closest colleague, and he was virtually second in Russia in terms of impact on state policy.

At the same time, it is important to remember that Burbulis was the second person in a very different Russia - democratic, open to the world, and seeking to be among the world's top civilized governments. Some thirty years later, a very different Gennady Burbulis came to Baku, visibly older and studiously avoiding attention to himself.

Burbulis was born on Aug. 4, 1945, in Pervouralsk. He aided Yeltsin during his rise to lead Soviet Russia in 1990 and then independent Russia in 1991, as its first president.

From 1993 to 1999, Burbulis was a member of parliament, and later was vice governor of the Novgorod region.

He was often referred to as Yeltsin's "Grey Cardinal," and played an important political role in the early years of Yeltsin's first term as Russian president.

However, he fell out of favor in 1993 as a result of criticism of the political and economic changes he helped design.

He served in Russia's lower house of parliament, the State Duma, from 1993 to 1999, as a deputy governor of Novgorod region in 2000-01, and as a senator in the Federation Council from 2001 to 2007.

He is survived by his wife, Natalia, and son, Anton.


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