25 years since the election of Boris Yeltsin
Today marks 25 years since the Russian people chose Boris Yeltsin as their first popularly elected president in Russia’s history.
Boris Nikolayevich Yeltsin was born in a small Village outside of the Russian city of Yekaterinburg. He spent his early working life in the construction industry. In 1961 he joined the communist party, but only left the construction industry to begin working for the party in 1968. His political career remained stagnant until Mikhail Gorbachev became the Premier of the USSR . Gorbachev selected Yeltsin specifically to help reform Moscow’s political establishment. However, Yeltsin decided to leave the Communist party in 1990 after disagreements with Gorbachev,
Becoming President of Russia
Yeltsin’s big opportunity came in August 1991. While Gorbachev was away from Moscow, the Communist party attempted a coup. In Moscow, troops surround the the Russian parliament building. Yeltsin lead the resistance, even going so far as to climb on one of the tanks to demonstrate his opposition. This turned him into a popular hero. The coup failed, but as Gorbachev returned to Moscow, it became clear that support had moved to Yeltsin.
On December 8, 1991 Yeltsin held a secret talks with the presidents of Ukraine and Belarus. They made an agreement known as the Belavezha Accords. This dissolved the Soviet Union. Facing the inevitable, Gorbachev resigned on December 25, 1991. Two days later, Yeltsin became the acting leader of the new Russia.
Soon after, Yeltsin became a candidate for the new Russian presidency. He won the election with 58% of the vote. Most of his competition came from Communist party candidates. He resigned from the presidency eight years later on New Years eve 1999.
Yeltsin died from heart failure on April 2, 2007. He was the first Russian Leader in over a century whose funeral took place in Moscow’s Cathedral of Christ the Saviour. Rather than being buried at the walls of the Kremlin with Soviet leaders, he was buried at Moscow’s Novodevichy cemetery with many famous Russian artists, scientists and politicians.
Lawrence Toye, currently studying Russian at Liden & Denz Moscow
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