Gennady Burbulis, key aide to former Russian President Boris Yeltsin, dies at 76

Shocking news emerged over the weekend when it was learned that Gennady Burbulis, once a close aide to former Russian President Boris Yeltsin and a key force in signing the pact that yielded the dissolution of the Soviet Union, died at the age of 76, as the Associated Press reports.

Burbulis passed away in Baku, Azerbaijan, where he had reportedly traveled to attend a conference, with his press secretary, Andrey Markov, noting to the Interfax news agency that the death was wholly unexpected.

“He was not sick, he felt great, and he just took part in the IX Global Baku Forum, which discussed the issue of the ‘Threat to the Global World Order,’” Markov added.

The late official was born in the town of Pervouralsk in the Ural Mountains in 1945, rising through the ranks to become a pivotal player in the 1990 presidential campaign that vaulted Yeltsin into power.

Playing a critical role in the formation and early days of post-Soviet Russia, Burbulis served as both secretary of state and first deputy chairman of the new state, and he was a signatory on behalf of Russia, together with the heads of Belarus and Ukraine, to the agreement that disbanded the Soviet Union and helped pave the way for a series of democratic reforms.

Known by many as Yeltsin’s “Grey Cardinal,” Burbulis went on to serve as a deputy in the Russian State Duma, as a deputy governor in Novgorod, and as Federation Council senator, as the Moscow Times noted.

From that point, he served as an adviser to the Federation Council chairman and spent time as the first deputy in charge of the Center for Monitoring Legislation and Law Enforcement Practice in the parliamentary upper chamber.

In response to the news of Burbulis’ death, Swedish diplomat and politician Carl Bildt remarked on social media, “Another of the key persons in the European transformation has left us. Burbulis was influential as few others in breaking with the Soviet past and trying to build a new and democratic Russia.”

Left to mourn Burbulis’ memory are, according to the Moscow Times, are a wife and son, not to mention the millions of his countrymen and women who remain grateful for his years of public service.