London: Boris Yeltsin was said to be the most colourful and drunk politician in Russia`s history since the Bolshevik Revolution in 1917.
Now, three years after his death, his daughter has claimed that the former president took to alcohol to withstand the pressures he endured as the leader of a country undergoing momentous change.
Tatyana Yumasheva, Yeltsin`s younger daughter who worked as his closest Kremlin aide for nearly four years, said that drinking was his "safety valve" but his portrayal in the West as a drunk was unfair and wrong.
"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.”
"In fact, 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.”
"I often wonder how he physically managed to cope with the strain. He was in charge of a huge country with nuclear weapons on the verge of collapse. It was scary. And, at times drinking was probably the only way of alleviating the stress, a safety valve," Yumasheva told `The Sunday Times`.
Yumasheva, now 50, who joined Yeltsin`s election team in 1996, and played a key role in his win of a second term in the Kremlin, has also come down heavily on West for portraying his father as a "drunk" leader.
"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.”
"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," Yumasheva said.
She added: "Yeltsin should go down in history as the first president who set Russia on a new course, overseeing a monumental change from a communist, totalitarian country to a civilised and democratic one which has a future, despite all its difficulties."
Yeltsin, who resigned as Russian president in 2000 and was replaced by Vladimir Putin, his chosen successor, died in 2007, aged 76.