|Birth Day:||February 1, 1931|
|Death Date:||Apr 23, 2007 (age 76)|
|Birth Place:||Butka, Russia|
As per our current Database, Boris Yeltsin died on Apr 23, 2007 (age 76).
|Height||Weight||Hair Colour||Eye Colour||Blood Type||Tattoo(s)|
He enjoyed skiing, boxing and gymnastics.
Boris Yeltsin was born on 1 February 1931 in the village of Butka, Talitsky District, Sverdlovsk, then in the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic, one of the constituent republics of the Soviet Union. His family, who were ethnic Russians, had lived in this area of the Urals since at least the eighteenth century. His father, Nikolai Yeltsin, had married his mother, Klavdiya Vasil'evna Starygina, in 1928. Yeltsin always remained closer to his mother than his father; the latter beat both his wife and children on various occasions.
As an infant, Yeltsin was christened into the Russian Orthodox Church; his mother was devout but his father unobservant. In the years following his birth, the area was hit by the famine of 1932–33; throughout his childhood, Yeltsin was often hungry. In 1932, Yeltsin's parents moved to Kazan, where Yeltsin went to kindergarten. There, in 1934, the OGPU state security services arrested Nikolai, accused him of anti-Soviet agitation, and sentenced him to three years in the Dmitrov labour camp. Yeltsin and his mother were then ejected from their residence but taken in by friends; Klavdiya worked at a garment factory in her husband's absence. In October 1936, Nikolai returned and in July 1937, the couple's second child, Mikhail, was born. That month, they moved to Berezniki in Perm Krai, where Nikolai obtained work on a potash combine project. There, in July 1944, they had a third child, the daughter Valentina.
Between 1939 and 1945, Yeltsin received a primary education at Berezniki's Railway School Number 95. Academically, he did well at primary school and was repeatedly elected class monitor by fellow pupils. There, he also took part in activities organised by the Komsomol and Vladimir Lenin All-Union Pioneer Organization. From 1945 to 1949, Yeltsin studied at the municipal secondary school number 1, also known as Pushkin High School. This overlapped with Soviet involvement in the Second World War, during which Yeltsin's paternal uncle, Andrian, served in the Red Army and was killed. Yeltsin again did well at secondary school, and there took an increasing interest in sport, becoming captain of the school's volleyball squad. He enjoyed playing pranks and in one instance played with a grenade, resulting in the thumb and index finger on his left hand being blown off. With friends, he would go on summer walking expeditions in the adjacent taiga, sometimes for many weeks.
In September 1949, Yeltsin was admitted to the Ural Polytechnic Institute (UPI) in Sverdlovsk. He took the stream in industrial and civil engineering, which included courses in maths, physics, materials and soil science, and draftsmanship. He was also required to study Marxist-Leninist doctrine and choose a language course, for which he selected German, although never became adept at it. Tuition was free and he was provided a small stipend to live on, which he supplemented by unloading railway trucks for a small wage. Academically, he achieved high grades, although temporarily dropped out in 1952 when afflicted with tonsillitis and rheumatic fever. He devoted much time to athletics, and joined the UPI volleyball team. He avoided any involvement in political organisations while there. During the summer 1953 break, he travelled across the Soviet Union, touring the Volga, central Russia, Belorussia, Ukraine, and Georgia; much of the travel was achieved by hitchhiking on freight trains. It was at UPI that he began a relationship with Naina Iosifovna Girina, a fellow student who would later become his wife. Yeltsin completed his studies in June 1955.
Leaving the Ural Polytechnic Institute, Yeltsin was assigned to work with the Lower Iset Construction Directorate in Sverdlovsk; at his request, he served the first year as a trainee in various building trades. He quickly rose through the organisation's ranks. In June 1956 he was promoted to foreman (master), and in June 1957 was promoted again, to the position of work superintendent (prorab). In these positions, he confronted a widespread alcoholism and a lack of motivation among construction workers, an irregular supply of materials, and the regular theft or vandalism of materials that were available. He soon imposed fines for those who damaged or stole materials or engaged in absenteeism, and closely monitored productivity. His work on the construction of a textile factory, for which he oversaw 1000 workers, brought him wider recognition. In June 1958 he became a senior work superintendent (starshii prorab) and in January 1960 was made head engineer (glavni inzhener) of Construction Directorate Number 13.
At the same time, Yeltsin's family was growing; in September 1956, he married Girina. She soon got work at a scientific research institute, where she remained for 29 years. In August 1957, their daughter Yelena was born, followed by a second daughter, Tatyana, in January 1960. During this period, they moved through a succession of apartments. On family holidays, Yeltsin took his family to a lake in northern Russia and to the Black Sea coast.
Yeltsin was the first Russian head of state in 113 years to be buried in a church ceremony, after Emperor Alexander III. He was survived by his wife, Naina Iosifovna Yeltsina, whom he married in 1956, and their two daughters Yelena and Tatyana, born in 1957 and 1960, respectively.
In March 1960, Yeltsin became a probationary member of the governing Communist Party and a full member in March 1961. In his later autobiography, he stated that his original reasons for joining were "sincere" and rooted in a genuine belief in the party's socialist ideals. In other interviews he instead stated that he joined because membership was a necessity for career advancement. His career continued to progress during the early 1960s; in February 1962 he was promoted chief (nachal'nik) of the construction directorate. In June 1963, Yeltsin was reassigned to the Sverdlovsk House-Building Combine as its head engineer, and in December 1965 became the combine's director. During this period he was largely involved in building residential housing, the expansion of which was a major priority for the government. He gained a reputation within the construction industry as a hard worker who was punctual and effective and who was used to meeting the targets set forth by the state apparatus. There had been plans to award him the Order of Lenin for his work, although this was scrapped after a five-story building he was constructing collapsed in March 1966. An official investigation found that Yeltsin was not culpable for the accident.
Within the local Communist Party, Yeltsin gained a patron in Yakov Ryabov, who became the first secretary of the party gorkom in 1963. In April 1968, Ryabov decided to recruit Yeltsin into the regional party apparatus, proposing him for a vacancy in the obkom's department for construction. Ryabov ensured that Yeltsin got the job despite objections that he was not a longstanding party member. That year, Yeltsin and his family moved into a four-room apartment on Mamin-Sibiryak Street, downtown Sverdlovsk. Yeltsin then received his second Order of the Red Banner of Labor for his work completing a cold-rolling mill at the Upper Iset Works, a project for which he had overseen the actions of 15,000 laborers. In the late 1960s, Yeltsin was permitted to visit the West for the first time as he was sent on a trip to France. In 1975, Yeltsin was then made one of the five obkom secretaries in the Sverdlovsk Oblast, a position that gave him responsibility not only for construction in the region but also for the forest and the pulp-and-paper industries. Also in 1975, his family relocated to a flat in the House of Old Bolsheviks on March Street.
In October 1976, Ryabov was promoted to a new position in Moscow. He recommended that Yeltsin replace him as the First Secretary of the Party Committee in Sverdlovsk Oblast. Leonid Brezhnev, who then led the Soviet Union as General Secretary of the party's Central Committee, interviewed Yeltsin personally to determine his suitability and agreed with Ryabov's assessment. At the Central Committee's recommendation, the Sverdlovsk obkom then unanimously voted to appoint Yeltsin as its first secretary. This made him one of the youngest provincial first secretaries in the RSFR, and gave him significant power within the province.
Where possible, Yeltsin tried to improve consumer welfare in the province, arguing that it would make for more productive workers. Under his provincial leadership, work started on various construction and infrastructure projects in the city of Sverdlovsk, including a subway system, the replacement of its barracks housing, new theaters and a circus, the refurbishment of its 1912 opera house, and youth housing projects to build new homes for young families. In September 1977, Yeltsin carried out orders to demolish the Ipatiev House, the location where the Romanov family had been killed in 1918, over the government's fears that it was attracting growing foreign and domestic attention. He was also responsible for punishing those living in the province who wrote or published material that the Soviet government considered to be seditious or damaging to the established order.
Yeltsin sat on the civil-military collegium of the Urals Military District and attended its field exercises. In October 1978, the Ministry of Defence gave him the rank of colonel. Also in 1978, Yeltsin was elected without opposition to the Supreme Soviet. In 1979 Yeltsin and his family moved into a five-room apartment at the Working Youth Embankment in Sverdlovsk. In February 1981, Yeltsin gave a speech to the 25th CPSU Congress and on the final day of the Congress was selected to join the Communist Party Central Committee.
Yeltsin had nevertheless always wanted a son. Yelena briefly married a school friend, Aleksei Fefelov, against her parents' wishes. They had a daughter, Yekaterina, in 1979, before separating. Yelena then married an Aeroflot pilot, Valerii Okulov, with whom she had a second daughter, Mariya, in 1983. Yeltsin's other daughter, Tatyana, married fellow student Vilen Khairullin, an ethnic Tatar, while studying at Moscow State University in 1980. In 1981 they had a son, named Boris after his grandfather, but soon separated. Tatyana then married again, to Leonid Dyachenko, and for a while they lived with Yeltsin at his Moscow apartment during the mid-1980s. Yeltsin was loyal to his friends. As friends, Yeltsin selected individuals he deemed to be professionally competent and morally fastidious. Aron noted that Yeltsin could be "an inexhaustible fount of merriment, exuberance and hospitality" among his friends.
By 1980, Yeltsin had developed the habit of appearing unannounced in factories, shops, and public transport to get a closer look at the realities of Soviet life. In May 1981, he held a question-and-answer session with college students at the Sverdlovsk Youth Palace, where he was unusually frank in his discussion of the country's problems. In December 1982 he then gave a television broadcast for the region in which he responded to various letters. This personalised approach to interacting with the public brought disapproval from some Communist Party figures, such as First Secretary of Tyumen Oblast, Gennadii Bogomyakov, although the Central Committee showed no concern. In 1981, he was awarded the Order of Lenin for his work. The following year, Brezhnev died and was succeeded by Yuri Andropov, who in turn ruled for 15 months before his own death; Yeltsin spoke positively about Andropov. Andropov was succeeded by another short-lived leader, Konstantin Chernenko. After his death, Yeltsin took part in the Central Committee plenum which appointed Mikhail Gorbachev the new General Secretary of the party, and thus de facto head of government, in March 1985.
Gorbachev was interested in reforming the Soviet Union and, at the urging of Yegor Ligachyov, the organisational secretary of the Central Committee, soon summoned Yeltsin to meet with him as a potential ally in his efforts. Yeltsin had some reservations about Gorbachev as a leader, deeming him controlling and patronising, but committed himself to the latter's project of reform. In April 1985, Gorbachev appointed Yeltsin as the Head of the Construction Department of the Party's Central Committee. Although it entailed moving to the capital city, Yeltsin was unhappy with what he regarded as a demotion. There, he was issued a nomenklatura flat at 54 Second Tverskaya-Yamskaya Street, where his daughter Tatyana and her son and second husband soon joined him and his wife. Gorbachev soon promoted Yeltsin to secretary of the Central Committee for construction and capital investment, a position within the powerful CPSU Central Committee Secretariat, a move approved by the Central Committee plenum in July 1985.
With Gorbachev's support, in December 1985, Yeltsin was installed as the first secretary of the Moscow gorkom of the CPSU. He was now responsible for managing the Soviet capital city, which had a population of 8.7 million. In February 1986, Yeltsin became a candidate (non-voting) member of the Politburo. At that point he formally left the Secretariat to concentrate on his role in Moscow. Over the coming year he removed many of the old secretaries of the gorkom, replacing them with younger individuals, particularly with backgrounds in factory management. In August 1986, Yeltsin gave a two-hour report to the party conference in which he talked about Moscow's problems, including issues that had previously not been spoken about publicly. Gorbachev described the speech as a "strong fresh wind" for the party. Yeltsin expressed a similar message at the 22nd Congress of the CPSU in February 1986 and then in a speech at the House of Political Enlightenment in April.
On 10 September 1987, after a lecture from hard-liner Yegor Ligachyov at the Politburo for allowing two small unsanctioned demonstrations on Moscow streets, Yeltsin wrote a letter of resignation to Gorbachev who was holidaying on the Black Sea. When Gorbachev received the letter he was stunned – nobody in Soviet history had voluntarily resigned from the ranks of the Politburo. Gorbachev phoned Yeltsin and asked him to reconsider.
On 27 October 1987 at the plenary meeting of the Central Committee of the CPSU, Yeltsin, frustrated that Gorbachev had not addressed any of the issues outlined in his resignation letter, asked to speak. He expressed his discontent with the slow pace of reform in society, the servility shown to the general secretary, and opposition to him from Ligachyov making his position untenable, before requesting to resign from the Politburo, adding that the City Committee would decide whether he should resign from the post of First Secretary of the Moscow Communist Party. Aside from the fact that no one had ever quit the Politburo before, no one in the party had ever addressed a leader of the party in such a manner in front of the Central Committee since Leon Trotsky in the 1920s. In his reply, Gorbachev accused Yeltsin of "political immaturity" and "absolute irresponsibility". Nobody in the Central Committee backed Yeltsin.
Within days, news of Yeltsin's actions leaked and rumours of his "secret speech" at the Central Committee spread throughout Moscow. Soon fabricated samizdat versions began to circulate – this was the beginning of Yeltsin's rise as a rebel and growth in popularity as an anti-establishment figure. Gorbachev called a meeting of the Moscow City Party Committee for 11 November 1987 to launch another crushing attack on Yeltsin and confirm his dismissal. On 9 November 1987, Yeltsin apparently tried to kill himself and was rushed to hospital bleeding profusely from self-inflicted cuts to his chest. Gorbachev ordered the injured Yeltsin from his hospital bed to the Moscow party plenum two days later where he was ritually denounced by the party faithful in what was reminiscent of a Stalinist show trial before he was fired from the post of First Secretary of the Moscow Communist Party. Yeltsin said he would never forgive Gorbachev for this "immoral and inhuman" treatment.
Yeltsin was demoted to the position of First Deputy Commissioner for the State Committee for Construction. At the next meeting of the Central Committee on 24 February 1988, Yeltsin was removed from his position as a Candidate member of the Politburo. He was perturbed and humiliated but began plotting his revenge. His opportunity came with Gorbachev's establishment of the Congress of People's Deputies. Yeltsin recovered, and started intensively criticizing Gorbachev, highlighting the slow pace of reform in the Soviet Union as his major argument.
Yeltsin's criticism of the Politburo and Gorbachev led to a smear campaign against him, in which examples of Yeltsin's awkward behavior were used against him. Speaking at the CPSU conference in 1988, Yegor Ligachyov stated, "Boris, you are wrong". An article in Pravda described Yeltsin as drunk at a lecture during his visit to the United States in September 1989, an allegation which appeared to be confirmed by a TV account of his speech; however, popular dissatisfaction with the regime was very strong, and these attempts to smear Yeltsin only added to his popularity. In another incident, Yeltsin fell from a bridge. Commenting on this event, Yeltsin hinted that he was helped to fall by the enemies of perestroika, but his opponents suggested that he was simply drunk.
On 26 March 1989, Yeltsin was elected to the Congress of People's Deputies of the Soviet Union as the delegate from Moscow district with a decisive 92% of the vote, and on 29 May 1989, he was elected by the Congress of People's Deputies to a seat on the Supreme Soviet of the Soviet Union. On 19 July 1989, Yeltsin announced the formation of the radical pro-reform faction in the Congress of People's Deputies, the Inter-Regional Group of Deputies, and on 29 July 1989 was elected one of the five co-Chairmen of the Inter-Regional Group.
On 16 September 1989, Yeltsin toured a medium-sized grocery store (Randall's) in Texas. Leon Aron, quoting a Yeltsin associate, wrote in his 2000 biography, Yeltsin, A Revolutionary Life (St. Martin's Press): "For a long time, on the plane to Miami, he sat motionless, his head in his hands. 'What have they done to our poor people?' he said after a long silence." He added, "On his return to Moscow, Yeltsin would confess the pain he had felt after the Houston excursion: the 'pain for all of us, for our country so rich, so talented and so exhausted by incessant experiments'." He wrote that Mr. Yeltsin added, "I think we have committed a crime against our people by making their standard of living so incomparably lower than that of the Americans." An aide, Lev Sukhanov was reported to have said that it was at that moment that "the last vestige of Bolshevism collapsed" inside his boss. In his autobiography, Against The Grain: An Autobiography written and published in 1990, Yeltsin hinted in a small passage that after his tour, he made plans to open his own line of grocery stores and planned to fill it with government subsidized goods in order to alleviate the country's problems.
According to numerous reports, Yeltsin was alcohol dependent. The subject made headlines abroad during Yeltsin's visit to the U.S. in 1989 for a series of lectures on social and political life in the Soviet Union. A report in the Italian newspaper La Repubblica, reprinted by Pravda, reported that Yeltsin often appeared drunk in public. His alleged alcoholism was also the subject of media discussion following his meeting with U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott following Clinton's inauguration in 1993 and an incident during a flight stop-over at Shannon Airport, Ireland, in September 1994 when the waiting Irish prime minister Albert Reynolds was told that Yeltsin was unwell and would not be leaving the aircraft. Reynolds tried to make excuses for him in an effort to offset his own humiliation in vainly waiting outside the plane to meet him. Speaking to the media in March 2010, Yeltsin's daughter Tatyana Yumasheva claimed that her father had suffered a heart attack on the flight from the United States to Moscow and was therefore not in a position to leave the plane.
On 4 March 1990, Yeltsin was elected to the Congress of People's Deputies of Russia representing Sverdlovsk with 72% of the vote. On 29 May 1990, he was elected chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic (RSFSR), in spite of the fact that Gorbachev personally pleaded with the Russian deputies not to select Yeltsin. He was supported by both democratic and conservative members of the Supreme Soviet, which sought power in the developing political situation in the country.
A part of this power struggle was the opposition between power structures of the Soviet Union and the RSFSR. In an attempt to gain more power, on 12 June 1990, the Congress of People's Deputies of the RSFSR adopted a declaration of sovereignty. On 12 July 1990, Yeltsin resigned from the CPSU in a dramatic speech before party members at the 28th Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, some of whom responded by shouting "Shame!"
Yeltsin suffered from heart disease during his first term as President of the Russian Federation, probably continuing for the rest of his life. He is known to have suffered heart problems in March 1990, just after being elected as a member of parliament. It was common knowledge that in early 1996 he was recuperating from a series of heart attacks and, soon after, he spent months in hospital recovering from a quintuple bypass operation (see above). His death in 2007 was recorded as due to congestive heart failure.
On 12 June 1991, Yeltsin won 57% of the popular vote in the democratic presidential elections for the Russian republic, defeating Gorbachev's preferred candidate, Nikolai Ryzhkov, who got just 16% of the vote, and four other candidates. In his election campaign, Yeltsin criticized the "dictatorship of the center", but did not suggest the introduction of a market economy. Instead, he said that he would put his head on the railtrack in the event of increased prices. Yeltsin took office on 10 July, and reappointed Ivan Silayev as Chairman of the Council of Ministers – Government of the Russian SFSR. On 18 August 1991, a coup against Gorbachev was launched by the government members opposed to perestroika. Gorbachev was held in Crimea while Yeltsin raced to the White House of Russia (residence of the Supreme Soviet of the RSFSR) in Moscow to defy the coup, making a memorable speech from atop the turret of a tank onto which he had climbed. The White House was surrounded by the military, but the troops defected in the face of mass popular demonstrations. By 21 August most of the coup leaders had fled Moscow and Gorbachev was "rescued" from Crimea and then returned to Moscow. Yeltsin was subsequently hailed by his supporters around the world for rallying mass opposition to the coup.
Although restored to his position, Gorbachev had been destroyed politically. Neither union nor Russian power structures heeded his commands as support had swung over to Yeltsin. By September, Gorbachev could no longer influence events outside of Moscow. Taking advantage of the situation, Yeltsin began taking over what remained of the Soviet government, ministry by ministry—including the Kremlin. On 6 November 1991, Yeltsin issued a decree banning all Communist Party activities on Russian soil. In early December 1991, Ukraine voted for independence from the Soviet Union. A week later, on 8 December, Yeltsin met Ukrainian president Leonid Kravchuk and the leader of Belarus, Stanislav Shushkevich, in Belovezhskaya Pushcha. In the Belavezha Accords, the three presidents declared that the Soviet Union no longer existed "as a subject of international law and geopolitical reality," and announced the formation of a voluntary Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) in its place.
On 5 December 1991, Senator Jesse Helms, ranking member of the Minority on the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, wrote to Yeltsin concerning U.S. servicemen who were POWs or MIAs: "The status of thousands and thousands of American servicemen who are held by Soviet and other Communist forces, and who were never repatriated after every major war this century, is of grave concern to the American people."
On 2 January 1992, Yeltsin, acting as his own Prime Minister, ordered the liberalisation of foreign trade, prices, and currency. At the same time, Yeltsin followed a policy of "macroeconomic stabilisation", a harsh austerity regime designed to control inflation. Under Yeltsin's stabilisation programme, interest rates were raised to extremely high levels to tighten money and restrict credit. To bring state spending and revenues into balance, Yeltsin raised new taxes heavily, cut back sharply on government subsidies to industry and construction, and made steep cuts to state welfare spending.
In early 1992, prices skyrocketed throughout Russia, and a deep credit crunch shut down many industries and brought about a protracted depression. The reforms devastated the living standards of much of the population, especially the groups dependent on Soviet-era state subsidies and welfare programs. Through the 1990s, Russia's GDP fell by 50%, vast sectors of the economy were wiped out, inequality and unemployment grew dramatically, whilst incomes fell. Hyperinflation, caused by the Central Bank of Russia's loose monetary policy, wiped out many people's personal savings, and tens of millions of Russians were plunged into poverty.
Some economists argue that in the 1990s, Russia suffered an economic downturn more severe than the United States or Germany had undergone six decades earlier in the Great Depression. Russian commentators and even some Western economists, such as Marshall Goldman, widely blamed Yeltsin's economic programme for the country's disastrous economic performance in the 1990s. Many politicians began to quickly distance themselves from the programme. In February 1992, Russia's vice president, Alexander Rutskoy denounced the Yeltsin programme as "economic genocide." By 1993, conflict over the reform direction escalated between Yeltsin on the one side, and the opposition to radical economic reform in Russia's parliament on the other.
Throughout 1992 Yeltsin wrestled with the Supreme Soviet of Russia and the Congress of People's Deputies for control over government, government policy, government banking and property. In the course of 1992, the speaker of the Russian Supreme Soviet, Ruslan Khasbulatov, came out in opposition to the reforms, despite claiming to support Yeltsin's overall goals. In December 1992, the 7th Congress of People's Deputies succeeded in turning down the Yeltsin-backed candidacy of Yegor Gaidar for the position of Russian Prime Minister. An agreement was brokered by Valery Zorkin, chairman of the Constitutional Court, which included the following provisions: a national referendum on the new constitution; parliament and Yeltsin would choose a new head of government, to be confirmed by the Supreme Soviet; and the parliament was to cease making constitutional amendments that change the balance of power between the legislative and executive branches. Eventually, on 14 December, Viktor Chernomyrdin, widely seen as a compromise figure, was confirmed in the office.
In late 1992, Yeltsin launched a programme of free vouchers as a way to give mass privatisation a jump-start. Under the programme, all Russian citizens were issued vouchers, each with a nominal value of around 10,000 roubles, for the purchase of shares of select state enterprises. Although each citizen initially received a voucher of equal face value, within months the majority of them converged in the hands of intermediaries who were ready to buy them for cash right away.
Yeltsin would ultimately respond with a statement made on 15 June 1992, whilst being interviewed on board his presidential jet en route to the United States, "Our archives have shown that it is true — some of them were transferred to the territory of the USSR and were kept in labour camps... We can only surmise that some of them may still be alive." On 10 December 1991, just five days after Senator Helms had written to Yeltsin regarding American servicemen, he again wrote to Yeltsin, this time concerning Korean Air Lines Flight 007 (KAL 007) requesting information concerning possible survivors, including Georgia Congressman Larry McDonald, and their whereabouts.
In March 1992, Yeltsin would hand over KAL 007's black box without its tapes to South Korean President Roh Tae-woo at the end of the plenary session of the South Korean National Assembly with this statement, "We apologise for the tragedy and are trying to settle some unsolved issues." Yeltsin released the tapes of the KAL 007's "Black Box" (its Digital Flight Data Recorder and Cockpit Voice Recorder) to the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) on 8 January 1993. For years the Soviet authorities had denied possessing these tapes. The openness of Yeltsin about POW/MIA and KAL 007 matters may also have signalled his willingness for more openness to the West. In 1992, which he labelled the "window of opportunity", he was willing to discuss biological weapons with the United States and admitted that the Sverdlovsk anthrax leak of 2 April 1979 (which Yeltsin had originally been involved in concealing) had been caused as the result of a mishap at a military facility. The Russian government had maintained that the cause was contaminated meat. The true number of victims in the anthrax outbreak at Sverdlovsk, about 850 miles (1,368 km) east of Moscow, is unknown.
The conflict escalated soon, however, with the parliament changing its prior decision to hold a referendum. Yeltsin, in turn, announced in a televised address to the nation on 20 March 1993, that he was going to assume certain "special powers" in order to implement his programme of reforms. In response, the hastily called 9th Congress of People's Deputies attempted to remove Yeltsin from presidency through impeachment on 26 March 1993. Yeltsin's opponents gathered more than 600 votes for impeachment, but fell 72 votes short of the required two-thirds majority.
On 21 September 1993, in breach of the constitution, Yeltsin announced in a televised address his decision to disband the Supreme Soviet and Congress of People's Deputies by decree. In his address, Yeltsin declared his intent to rule by decree until the election of the new parliament and a referendum on a new constitution, triggering the constitutional crisis of October 1993. On the night after Yeltsin's televised address, the Supreme Soviet declared Yeltsin removed from the presidency for breaching the constitution, and Vice-President Alexander Rutskoy was sworn in as acting president.
As the Supreme Soviet was dissolved, elections to the newly established parliament, the State Duma, were held in December 1993. Candidates associated with Yeltsin's economic policies were overwhelmed by a huge anti-Yeltsin vote, the bulk of which was divided between the Communist Party and ultra-nationalists. However, the referendum held at the same time approved the new constitution, which significantly expanded the powers of the president, giving Yeltsin the right to appoint the members of the government, to dismiss the Prime Minister and, in some cases, to dissolve the Duma.
In December 1994, Yeltsin ordered the military invasion of Chechnya in an attempt to restore Moscow's control over the republic. Nearly two years later, Yeltsin withdrew federal forces from the devastated Chechnya under a 1996 peace agreement brokered by Alexander Lebed, Yeltsin's then-security chief. The peace deal allowed Chechnya greater autonomy but not full independence. The decision to launch the war in Chechnya dismayed many in the West. TIME magazine wrote:
In 1995, a Black Brant sounding rocket launched from the Andøya Space Center caused a high alert in Russia, known as the Norwegian rocket incident. The Russians thought it might be a nuclear missile launched from an American submarine. The incident occurred in the post-Cold War era, where many Russians were still very suspicious of the United States and NATO. This event resulted in a full alert being passed up through the military chain of command all the way to Yeltsin, who was notified and the "nuclear briefcase" (known in Russia as Cheget) used to authorize nuclear launch was automatically activated. Yeltsin had to decide whether to launch a retaliatory nuclear strike against the United States. No warning was issued to the Russian populace of any incident; it was reported in the news a week afterward.
In 1995, as Yeltsin struggled to finance Russia's growing foreign debt and gain support from the Russian business elite for his bid in the 1996 presidential elections, the Russian president prepared for a new wave of privatisation offering stock shares in some of Russia's most valuable state enterprises in exchange for bank loans. The programme was promoted as a way of simultaneously speeding up privatisation and ensuring the government a cash infusion to cover its operating needs.'
According to interviews by author and historian Taylor Branch with Bill Clinton, on a 1995 visit to Washington, D.C., Yeltsin was found on Pennsylvania Avenue, drunk, in his underwear and trying to hail a taxi cab in order to find pizza.
In February 1996, Yeltsin announced that he would seek a second term in the 1996 Russian presidential election in the summer. The announcement followed weeks of speculation that Yeltsin was at the end of his political career because of his health problems and growing unpopularity in Russia. At the time, Yeltsin was recuperating from a series of heart attacks. Domestic and international observers also noted his occasionally erratic behaviour. When campaigning began in early 1996, Yeltsin's popularity was close to being non-existent. Meanwhile, the opposition Communist Party had already gained ground in parliamentary voting on 17 December 1995, and its candidate, Gennady Zyuganov, had a strong grassroots organisation, especially in the rural areas and small towns, and appealed effectively to memories of the old days of Soviet prestige on the international stage and the domestic order under state socialism.
Yeltsin underwent emergency quintuple heart bypass surgery in November 1996, and remained in the hospital for months. During his presidency, Russia received US$40,000,000,000 in funds from the International Monetary Fund and other international lending organisations. However, his opponents allege that most of these funds were stolen by people from Yeltsin's circle and placed into foreign banks.
According to former Deputy Prime Minister of Russia Boris Nemtsov, the bizarre behavior of Yeltsin resulted from "strong drugs" given to him by Kremlin doctors, which were incompatible even with a small amount of alcohol. This was discussed by journalist Yelena Tregubova from the "Kremlin pool" in connection with an episode during Yeltsin's visit to Stockholm in 1997 when Yeltsin suddenly started talking nonsense (he allegedly told his bemused audience that Swedish meatballs reminded him of Björn Borg's face), lost his balance, and almost fell down on the podium after drinking a single glass of champagne. Tregubova barely escaped an assassination attempt after publishing this material.
In 1998, a political and economic crisis emerged when Yeltsin's government defaulted on its debts, causing financial markets to panic and the rouble to collapse in the 1998 Russian financial crisis. During the 1999 Kosovo war, Yeltsin strongly opposed the NATO military campaign against Yugoslavia, and warned of possible Russian intervention if NATO deployed ground troops to Kosovo. In televised comments he stated: "I told NATO, the Americans, the Germans: Don't push us towards military action. Otherwise there will be a European war for sure and possibly a world war."
In 1998, Prosecutor General of Russia Yuri Skuratov opened a bribery investigation against Mabetex, accusing CEO Mr. Pacolli of bribing President Boris Yeltsin and his family members. Swiss authorities issued an international arrest warrant for Pavel Borodin, the official who managed the Kremlin's property empire. Admitting publicly that bribery was usual business practice in Russia, Mr. Pacolli confirmed in early-December 1999 that he had guaranteed five credit cards for Mr. Yeltsin's wife, Naina, and two daughters, Tatyana and Yelena. President Yeltsin resigned a few weeks later on 31 December 1999, appointing Vladimir Putin as his successor. President Putin's first decree as president was lifelong immunity from prosecution for Yeltsin.
On 9 August 1999, Yeltsin fired his Prime Minister, Sergei Stepashin, and for the fourth time, fired his entire Cabinet. In Stepashin's place, he appointed Vladimir Putin, relatively unknown at that time, and announced his wish to see Putin as his successor. In late 1999, Yeltsin and U.S. President Bill Clinton openly disagreed on the war in Chechnya. At the November meeting of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, Clinton pointed his finger at Yeltsin and demanded he halt bombing attacks that had resulted in many civilian casualties. Yeltsin immediately left the conference.
On 15 May 1999, Yeltsin survived another attempt of impeachment, this time by the democratic and communist opposition in the State Duma. He was charged with several unconstitutional activities, including the signing of the Belavezha Accords dissolving the Soviet Union in December 1991, the coup-d'état in October 1993, and initiating the war in Chechnya in 1994. None of these charges received the two-thirds majority of the Duma required to initiate the process of impeachment of the president.
On 31 December 1999, Yeltsin issued a televised resignation speech. In it, he praised the advances in cultural, political, and economic freedom that his administration had overseen although apologised to Russia's people for "not making many of your and my dreams come true. What seemed simple to do proved to be excruciatingly difficult."
Yeltsin, in his memoirs, claimed no recollection of the event but did make a passing reference to the incident when he met Borg a year later at the World Circle Kabaddi Cup in Hamilton, Canada, where the pair had been invited to present the trophy. He made a hasty withdrawal from the funeral of King Hussein of Jordan in February 1999.
After Yeltsin's death, a Dutch neurosurgeon, Michiel Staal, said that his team had been secretly flown to Moscow to operate on Yeltsin in 1999. Yeltsin suffered from an unspecified neurological disorder that affected his sense of balance, causing him to wobble as if in a drunken state; the goal of the operation was to reduce the pain.
Yeltsin's personal and health problems received a great deal of attention in the global press. As the years went on, he was often viewed as an increasingly drunk and unstable leader, rather than the inspiring figure he was once seen as. The possibility that he might die in office was often discussed. Starting in the last years of his presidential term, Yeltsin's primary residence was the Gorki-9 presidential dacha west of Moscow. He made frequent stays at the nearby government sanatorium in Barvikha. In October 1999 Yeltsin was hospitalized with flu and a fever, and in the following month he was hospitalized with pneumonia, just days after receiving treatment for bronchitis.
Yeltsin maintained a low profile after his resignation, making almost no public statements or appearances. He criticized his successor in December 2000 for supporting the reintroduction of the Soviet-era national anthem. In January 2001 he was hospitalized for six weeks with pneumonia resulting from a viral infection. On 13 September 2004, following the Beslan school hostage crisis and nearly concurrent terrorist attacks in Moscow, Putin launched an initiative to replace the election of regional governors with a system whereby they would be directly appointed by the president and approved by regional legislatures. Yeltsin, together with Mikhail Gorbachev, publicly criticized Putin's plan as a step away from democracy in Russia and a return to the centrally-run political apparatus of the Soviet era.
In September 2005, Yeltsin underwent a hip operation in Moscow after breaking his femur in a fall while on holiday in the Italian island of Sardinia. On 1 February 2006, Yeltsin celebrated his 75th birthday.
Boris Yeltsin died of congestive heart failure on 23 April 2007, aged 76. According to experts quoted by Komsomolskaya Pravda, the onset of Yeltsin's condition began during his visit to Jordan between 25 March and 2 April. He was buried in the Novodevichy Cemetery on 25 April 2007, following a period during which his body had lain in repose in the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour in Moscow.
During his career as a figure in the Soviet Union, Yeltsin received ten medals and awards for his service to the state. In April 2008, a new memorial to Yeltsin was dedicated in Moscow's Novodevichy cemetery, to mixed reactions. At the memorial service, a military chorus performed Russia's national anthem – an anthem that was changed shortly after the end of Yeltsin's term, to follow the music of the old Soviet anthem, with lyrics reflecting Russia's new status.
In 2013, a memorial sculpture in relief, dedicated to Boris Yeltsin, was erected on Nunne street, at the base of the Patkuli stairs in Tallinn, for his contribution to the peaceful independence of Estonia during 1990–1991.
In 2015 the Boris Yeltsin Presidential Center was opened in Yekaterinburg.
Currently, Boris Yeltsin is 90 years, 6 months and 2 days old. Boris Yeltsin will celebrate 91st birthday on a Tuesday 1st of February 2022.
Find out about Boris Yeltsin birthday activities in timeline view here.