Former president Boris Yeltsin, the first Russian leader after the fall of the Soviet Union, died on April 23 at the age of 76, a Kremlin spokesman said. His death was due to a heart attack.
Mikhail Gorbachev, once Yeltsin's rival, expressed his condolences. "I offer my deepest condolences to the family of a man on whose shoulders rested many great deeds for the good of the country and serious mistakes -- a tragic fate," the former Soviet leader was quoted by Interfax as saying.
Yeltsin was born to a peasant family in 1931 near the Ural mountains city of Yekaterinburg and became a construction engineer before embarking on a political career in the Communist Party. In 1991, he was elected the Russian Federation's first president and in August of the same year he rallied democrats to defy a junta of generals and other apparatchiks who ousted Gorbachev in a coup.
Here are key dates in his career:
Dec 24: Promoted by Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, Yeltsin is named first secretary of the Moscow Communist party.
June 12: Yeltsin is elected speaker of parliament.
June 12: Yeltsin is elected president of the Russian Federation with 57.4% of the popular vote.
December 8: Yeltsin and the presidents of Ukraine and Belarus proclaim the dissolution of the Soviet Union.
January: Following the resignation of Gorbachev, Yeltsin launches an ambitious program of market reforms, removing price controls and privatizing key sectors of the economy.
September 21: Yeltsin dissolves the Russian parliament unconstitutionally, triggering a rebellion by opposition deputies.
December 11: Yeltsin orders Russian troops into the separatist southern republic of Chechnya, triggering an eighteen-month conflict that will leave tens of thousands of dead.
July 3: Yeltsin is reelected president with 53.8% of the vote.
May 27: Yeltsin travels to Paris to sign a treaty with NATO countries in which Russia reluctantly accepts the Atlantic alliance's enlargement to the east.
August: Russia plunges into financial crisis following a massive de facto devaluation of the ruble. Yeltsin plumbs new depths of unpopularity as living standards plummet further and new allegations of corruption at official levels surface.
August 9: Yeltsin appoints the head of the security services, Vladimir Putin, as prime minister, saying he sees Putin as his preferred successor.
December 31: Yeltsin resigns ahead of the end of his presidential term.
Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2007