Enormous stress behind Yeltsin's drinking problem, says daughter

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London, Mar. 7 (ANI): Former Russian President Boris Yeltsin's daughter has acknowledged that her father had a drinking problem, which was brought on by the enormous stress he was under as the leader of a country undergoing tumultuous change.

"There was an alcohol problem but, I think, that when my father did drink, it was because of the enormous stress he was under. No other country has undergone such tumultuous change in so short a time as Russia did under Yeltsin," The Times quoted Tatyana Yumasheva, as saying.

"He felt great stress because of the huge responsibility that lay on his shoulders and the very tense political situation he faced inside the country with enormous opposition to the reforms he was trying to push through. He was in charge of a huge country with nuclear weapons on the verge of collapse. It was scary. At times drinking was probably the only way of alleviating the stress, a safety valve," she added.

While Yumasheva, who worked as his closest Kremlin aide for four years, admitted for the first time that drinking was Yeltsin's "safety valve," she rejected Yeltsin's portrayal in the West as a drunk.

"Many in the West have a caricatured image of Yeltsin, a larger-than-life character for whom drinking was a way of life. That's absolutely untrue," he said.

"It's unfair, biased and unacceptable to look at Yeltsin's presidency and its many achievements exclusively through this very narrow prism. It should be assessed in its entirety. He was the leader of a great country who did much for his nation," he added.

Yumasheva, now 50, joined Yeltsin's election team in 1996 to help him win a second term in the Kremlin.

She stayed on as his most trusted adviser until he resigned four years later to be replaced by Vladimir Putin, his chosen successor.

She and Yeltsin's chief of staff, Valentin Yumashev, whom she later married, played an important role in propelling Putin to power. (ANI)

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