On July 1, 1988, the catchphrase well known to all Russians “Boris, you are wrong!” was born. Although recited by many Russians to this day, not many remember where it originated.
The phrase that entered the vocabulary of Russia’s citizens and is mentioned in many anecdotes was said by Politburo member Yegor Ligachev when addressing Boris Yeltsin at a Communist Party Conference. Ligachev interrupted Yeltsin’s speech in an attempt to shame the future President of Russia as he was expressing his discontent with the slow pace of reforms and Mikhail Gorbachev.
During the 1990s the phrase was changed to “Boris, you’re right!” as it turned into a motto.
Yeltsin earned the sympathy of the public, who expressed their enthusiasm for his reforms and rallied in the streets with buttons on their shirts and posters that read “Boris, you’re right!” The phrase “Yegor, you’re wrong!” was often used by Ligachev’s opponents.
Ligachev has not changed his mind on Yeltsin and still considers that his actions as head of state brought nothing good for the country “When I said ‘Boris, you’re wrong!’ I also said other words which I would like to repeat now. When addressing him I also said, ‘You possess enormous energy, but that energy is not constructive, but destructive!’ Unfortunately I was right. I would have been glad if I was wrong”
One popular anecdote circulating around the catch phrase is as follows: The television show “Who wants’ to be a millionaire?” is being filmed. The host reads the following question: “After which phrase did USSR fall apart?” A. Boris, you’re wrong, B. Mikhail, you’re a moron, C. Igor, you’re a fool or D. Anatoly, you’re a jerk.