Timeline of Boris Yeltsin's Life and Career
by John Gettings
Yeltsin is born to parents Nikolai and Klavdia in the
village of Butka in the Sverdlovsk Region, an industrial
center in the Ural
Mountain region of Russia.
Marries Naina Iosifovna Girina. They have two daughters, Yelena
(born in 1957) and Tatyana (1959).
Appointed first secretary of the Sverdlovsk District Central
Committee, a position similar to governor in the United States.
His performance earns him praise as an enthusiastic
The new general secretary of the Communist Party, Mikhail Gorbachev, brings Yeltsin to
Moscow as secretary of
the Central Committee for Construction.
He is promoted to first secretary of the Moscow City Party
Committee. It's a position with responsibilities similar to
those of an American mayor and includes membership in the
Politburo, the Soviet Union's de
facto ruling body.
The Moscow City Party Committee meets, with Gorbachev in
attendance, and strips Yeltsin of his post as first
secretary. The committee was angered by comments Yeltsin made
at an Oct. 21 meeting where he criticized Gorbachev's Perestroika for moving too
slowly. He was removed from the Politburo and moved to a job
running construction back in Sverdlovsk.
Yeltsin is surprisingly elected to the Soviet parliament.
His political career is revived by his vocal campaign against
corruption within the political elite.
He wins the Russian Federation's first popular presidential election.
His crowning achievement comes on this day as he stands
defiantly atop an armored personnel carrier and challenges a
hard-liner coup against Soviet President Gorbachev. He's hailed
as a defender of democracy.
Tanks surround the parliament building once again, this time
under Yeltsin's illegal orders, to force lawmakers to disband.
More than 140 people die in the street fighting that
ensues. Two months later a new constitution is approved, giving
Yeltsin sweeping powers.
Yeltsin orders Russian troops into Chechnya to squash a separatist
rebellion. The decision is a disaster for Yeltsin as the campaign
would drag on for more than two years and lead to the deaths of
thousands of Russian citizens.
Wins re-election for a second term. But not before a puzzling
disappearance from public life in June. Officials admit months
later that he suffered a heart attack.
Undergoes successful quintuple heart bypass surgery, performed by
American heart surgeon Dr. Michael DeBakey. In January he
contracts pneumonia, Communists try to seize the opportunity to impeach him but his health
improves and he regains the reigns of power.
Yeltsin fires the entire cabinet, including prime minister
Viktor Chernomyrdin, and replaces him with little-known former
Energy Minister Sergei Kiriyenko. Chernomyrdin is the first of
four prime ministers Yeltsin will fire over the next 17 months.
The Russian economy collapses and the resulting financial crisis that would see
the ruble lose 75 percent of its value
over the next year sinks Yeltsin's popularity. He ousts
Kiriyenko on Aug. 23 and re-nominates Chernomyrdin. The Duma rejects the nomination twice
and Yeltsin fires back with a former KGB official, Yevgeny
Primakov, who is confirmed in September.
Yeltsin fires Primakov, who was rapidly gaining popularity, and
names Interior Minister Sergei Stepashin to replace him.
Yeltsin abruptly fires Stepashin and names Vladimir Putin, the head of the Federal
Security Service and 15-year veteran of the KGB, the acting prime minister. He also
designates Putin as successor to the presidency.
Yeltsin asks a national TV audience for their forgiveness and
apologizes for his mistakes in a resignation speech that
surprises the world's media and concludes his eight years as
Russia's president. He announces that Putin will immediately
assume the duties of the president until national elections,
which have been moved up from June to March.
Yeltsin dies of heart failure.
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