Former Russian President Boris Yeltsin Dies

April 23, 2007
An overview of his career.

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

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