Amidst all the internal family politics on display in The Crown season 5, there are also episodes which stray outside of the royal disputes to focus on other historical events.


One of these is Ipatiev House, the sixth episode of the season which deals further with Prince Philip's friendship with Penny Knatchbull, but also with Russian leader Boris Yeltsin.

Yeltsin's visit to the UK, and The Queen's visit to Moscow in 1994 are both explored, but just who was Yeltsin and who plays him in The Crown?

Read on for everything you need to know.

Who was Boris Yeltsin?

Boris Yeltsin
Boris Yeltsin Ron Sachs/CNP/Getty Images

Boris Yeltsin was a Russian politician, who between the years of 1991 and 1999 acted as the first president of the Russian Federation, following the collapse of the Soviet Union. He followed Mikhail Gorbachev, who was the last leader of the Soviet Union up until its dissolution, and his leadership was succeeded by Vladimir Putin.

Yeltsin had previously been a member of the Communist Party, but quit the party in July 1990, before becoming the first popularly elected leader in Russia's history.

He served two terms as President, during which time he oversaw the country's transition to a capitalist economy, and visited London in 1994. Later that same year, Queen Elizabeth II became the first British monarch to visit Russia since the 1917 revolution.

Yeltsin died in 2007 aged 76.

Who plays Boris Yeltsin in The Crown?

Boris Yeltsin and Queen Elizabeth II
Boris Yeltsin and Queen Elizabeth II Tim Graham Picture Library/Getty Images

Yeltsin is played in The Crown by Belarusian actor Anatoliy Kotenyov.

Kotenyov is known for appearing in films such as As Far as My Feet Will Carry Me, Dezha vyu and Chetvyortaya planeta. He also recently appeared in series such as Street Justice and Kris+Tina.

How does Boris Yeltsin factor into The Crown season 5?

Imelda Staunton as Queen Elizabeth II in The Crown season 5
Imelda Staunton as Queen Elizabeth II in The Crown season 5 Courtesy of Netflix

Boris Yeltsin appears in The Crown season 5 episode 6, called Ipatiev House. At the start of the episode, Jonny Lee Miller's Prime Minister John Major returns from a visit to Moscow and says that the people there love Yeltsin, but that he's not sure he was ever once sober when they were in one another's company.

He told Imelda Staunton's Queen that Yeltsin is an anglophile who would love to receive an invitation to the palace. However, while The Queen initially seems to have a positive impression of this idea, her Private Secretary then informs her that when he was younger Yeltsin had been a regional official in the city where Ipatiev House was located - where the Romanov family were executed in 1918.

Yeltsin visits the palace and during lunch invites The Queen to visit Moscow to celebrate the end of Communist rule. However, The Queen tells him he should have considered what happened at Ipatiev House, understanding that he personally gave the order for the house to be destroyed. She says she considers this an act of great disrespect to her family's memory.

Yeltsin says the orders came from the very top and that he will do everything he can to restore the Romanovs' dignity, to which she says they can then discuss a royal visit.

During official photographs, Yeltsin says in Russian to those with him that The Queen shouldn't lecture him, and that the Romanovs' fates were actually sealed in Buckingham Palace.

The Queen later visits Moscow after the Romanovs' bodies are uncovered, but a last minute hold-up occurs when they're unable to identify two of them. A funeral can therefore not take place as was planned.

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In private, The Queen admits to Philip how disappointed she is that her relatives will not yet be buried, after they had travelled there specifically to see that happen.

Later, back in the UK, John Major confirms that the bodies have been identified and the burial can take place, explaining that Yeltsin was "positively giddy" that a line could finally be drawn under the matter.

The Crown seasons 1-5 are available on Netflix now. Sign up for Netflix from £6.99 a month. Netflix is also available on Sky Glass and Virgin Media Stream.

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