Mr Dmitry Donskoi, the personal photographer to former President Yeltsin, has passed away. He was the photographer to President Yeltsin from 1991 to 1997 and is called the legend of Russian photojournalism, winning 161 international awards. He was the only photographer in Russia to hold the title of “Excellence FIAP”.
He graduated from the Faculty of Journalism of Moscow State University in 1960, was a correspondent of АПН and РИА Новости from 1961 to 2006, and taught at the Faculty of Journalism of Moscow State University from 1975 to 2015.
He became President Yeltsin’s personal photographer just by chance. When he was waiting at the reception desk for some work in the Kremlin, Yeltsin and Korzhakov happened to pass by, and Korzhakov introduced Mr Donskoi to Yeltsin and said – “would you like to become the president’s personal photographer?” And that was how it all started. It was an episode that reminds me of the free-wheeling era of Yeltsin.
Mr Donskoi, as expected from a photographer of the Yeltsin, has no shortage of sagas. In particular, when President Jiang Zemin of China came to the Kremlin, he got into a brawl with Chinese press photographers. There is a protocol for photo shooting on such an occasion. When a group of Chinese photographers broke the protocol and interrupted the Russian photographers, Mr Donskoi punched the Chinese photographer who stood in front of him, and the Chinese photographer disappeared, according to him. And he did it in front of the two leaders of two great powers. Mr Yeltsin reportedly said, “what the hell is going on!”
Mr Donskoi was more of Yeltsin’s family than just a personal photographer to Yeltsin. He left behind many pictures of his family vacations and personal matters, as well as those of political events. Well, the above is a nice photo. I like Yeltsin, and these photos make me smile.
By the way, Mr Donskoi’s most famous photo is probably the one of Yeltsin sobbing in front of Russian soldiers during the First Chechen War. At the time, Russia was struggling against Chechnya, which was significantly inferior in terms of quality and quantity of military equipment. This photo was widely circulated as the Russian troops withdrew.
According to Mr Donskoi, Mr Yeltsin was not weeping, but just smashing a mosquito that had landed on his face. Mr Donskoi was following Ms Yeltsin with a telephoto lens, and Ms Yeltsin was talking to soldiers, not caring about the mosquito that had landed on his face. When the mosquito began to move, he couldn’t help but smash it, and Mr Donskoi couldn’t help but press the shutter. At first, Donskoi had no intention of making this photo public, but when his colleague saw it, the colleague said, “Idiot! Send it to the competition right away!.” And that was how the photo became famous.
The photo below should be appropriate for the news of Mr Donskoi’s death. This is the photo of Mr Yeltsin placing flowers at the memorial. Unlike Mr Putin, there is nothing flashy, but it touches. May Mr Donskoi rest in peace.