Boris -- once more

MIKE BOWLER

June 18, 1992|By Mike Bowler

THAT GUY on Page 1 of The Evening Sun yesterday, the one with an arm around George and an arm around Barbara? The one looking more like the president of the Omaha Chamber of Commerce than Vladimir Lenin?

Is that the same Boris N. Yeltsin who stopped by Johns Hopkins University three years ago on his first U.S. visit and gave a rambling speech after spending the night with a bottle of fine Kentucky sour mash?

Then, he wasn't President Yeltsin, statesman. He was Boris Yeltsin, "ardent Soviet populist," according to The Sun. He arrived late at night and apparently spent most of the wee hours imbibing. But he did manage to deliver the speech, in which he appealed for a common effort to save President Mikhail Gorbachev's faltering reform program. The Soviet Union, he said, faced "a terrible cataclysm that will affect every country in the world."

Mr. Yeltsin challenged President Bush. "We know," he said, "that every day he plays tennis and jogs. I am prepared to meet him on the tennis court for very high stakes. If I win, we all have to stop testing our nuclear weapons. I don't know what I'll do if he wins."

Those who were there said Mr. Yeltsin almost didn't make it. Only a few minutes before he was to speak, the future president was "taking a little rest," in the words of then-Hopkins President Steven Muller. "He is suffering from . . . a murderous schedule . . ."

The Sun reported: "As the morning wore on, Mr. Yeltsin was able to speak without slurring his words."

It was Sept. 12, 1989, and the Orioles were two games behind Toronto in the Eastern Division.

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