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Biden’s Empty-Shelf America Is A Country Boris Yeltsin Wouldn’t Recognize


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Issues & Insights

n 1989, Boris Yeltsin visited a Randalls supermarket in Texas. He was astonished at what he saw: shelves, coolers, and freezers bursting with groceries. Were the late Russian president to visit today, he would find many of America’s stores having a lot in common with those of the centrally planned Soviet Union, where the inventory was chronically low, the customers morose.

According to reports of the day, Yeltsin, then still a member of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, “roamed the aisles of Randalls nodding his head in amazement,” declaring that “even the Politburo doesn’t have this choice. Not even Mr. Gorbachev.”


“He told his fellow Russians in his entourage that if their people, who often must wait in line for most goods, saw the conditions of U.S. supermarkets, ‘there would be a revolution,’” the Houston Chronicle said in a sort of “remember when” article a few years back.

Yeltsin’s biographer said that afterward he “was despondent” and “couldn’t stop thinking about the plentiful food at the grocery store and what his countrymen had to subsist on in Russia.”

“ For a long time, on the plane to Miami,” after the visit, “he sat motionless, his head in his hands,” Leon Aron wrote in his biography, “Yeltsin, A Revolutionary Life.” 

“What have they done to our poor people?” Yeltsin asked. :snip:

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