He weren't no saint, but to more than just the folks of Russia, his tank ride (unlike some pissant Chimp's pretensions of Captaincy) truly resulted in salvation. I am not a vodka fan, but will be having one in his honor sometime soon.
Boris Yeltsin, 1931-2007
Russia's tragic reformer
Updated April 23, 2007
His finest hour came on Aug. 19, 1991, when he clambered onto the tanks surrounding Russia's parliament buildings and transformed them into his own personal soapbox, in the end thwarting a coup by hardliners attempting to turn the Soviet Union away from its flirtation with democracy.
At the time, Boris Yeltsin was the newly elected president of Russia, which was still only a satellite in the Soviet constellation. But his defiance of the hardliners made him democracy's hero around the world and catapulted him into the top job, where he ended up presiding over the demise of the Soviet Union and enduring his own personal demons in the process.
A timeline of his life and career: