I just had a conversation last week (actually, I think that it was during my excursion to the vodka factory) with my colleagues, that Boris would likely live forever, because his organs are so well preserved after so many years of heavy drinking. Apparently, our prediction was wrong.
Boris was, in my eyes, the epitome of a Russian politician. He was very charismatic and pretty populist. He was also a настоящий мужик (real man).
When he was 14 he blew-off two of his fingers, when the hand grenade that he was trying to throw at Germans detonated early. He was Мастер Спорт ("Master Sport", a very high Soviet award for great sportsmanship)... albeit in volleyball, but still very impressive.
He also showed such political prowess! Yeltsin during the 1970s (as a communist party boss) ordered the house that the Romanovs (the last royal family of Russia) were killed in be destroyed. He then paved the whole area over so that people couldn't come to pay tribute, or visit the spot of the murder.
Well, 30 years pass, Russia is no longer communist, the Romanovs are now Orthodox saints, and Boris sees that he needs to play this hand the right way... So he attends that funeral service held for the last royal family and says wonderful things about them.
In the course of those 30 years he also went from being a (atheistic) communist to being a (Orthodox) democrat.
Look at how he hopped right up on that tank during the putsch!!! Talk about taking whatever lenghts to win votes!
He took whatever stance was need to keep his popularity high.
Of course, there were the downsides of old Boris:
In high school I had a collection of photos titled "The Drunk Boris-Bear Dancing". It was a series of photos of Boris drunk and... well... dancing.
Aside from the epic drinking (and womanizing), Boris also probably should have reigned a little bit tighter of a control on the mafia. It is true (in my view) that we can thank Boris for the problems with the oligarchs. Had Boris been a little bit more stringent (and not let corruption reign) Putin wouldn't need to be scaring everyone in Russia worth over $1 billion to move abroad.
One of my favorite quotes is of Yeltsin, "If you want your children and grandchildren to be happy: Don't send them into politics."
Thanks for the advice Boris,