Strobe Talbott, the architect of U.S. policies toward Russia during the Clinton administration, met with the late Russian president Boris Yeltsin numerous times. He says Yeltsin stood up to the worst of Russia's Soviet past, and moved the country toward an open society.
But Talbott says that current Russian president Vladimir Putin has made Russia significantly less democratic — and Yeltsin was the sole reason Putin became president, he says. Melissa Block talks with Talbott, who is now president of the Brookings Institution.
Talbott chronicled the relationship between Bill Clinton and Boris Yeltsin in his book The Russia Hand: A Memoir of Presidential Diplomacy.