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Former Russian President Boris Yeltsin Dead at 76

  • VOA News

Russian President Vladimir Putin has designated Wednesday a day of mourning for former Russian President Boris Yeltsin, who died Monday in Moscow at the age of 76.

Kremlin officials say his body will lie in state at Moscow's Christ the Savior Cathedral ahead of burial in Novodevichy Cemetery, also in the capital.

The first popularly-elected Russian president, Mr. Yeltsin started his career rising through the ranks of the Communist Party, eventually becoming Moscow party chief. He cultivated an image as a champion of the people, riding buses and subways instead of the usual limousines.

He lost his party posts for criticizing Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev but, in 1991, won the presidency of the Soviet republic of Russia. Later that year he defied a hard-line communist coup attempt against Mr. Gorbachev, then pursued policies that led to the dissolution of the Soviet Union.

Mr. Yeltsin, who unleashed the tightly controlled economy and media of the Soviet era, won re-election in 1996.

But he had been suffering major heart problems and underwent multiple bypass surgery. His health gradually declined and he resigned on December 31, 1999. He turned power over to current President Vladimir Putin.



Mr. Yeltsin's popularity as a democratic leader was tested when he sent tanks against a defiant parliament in 1993 and when his economic reforms left many ordinary Russians in poverty. His dispatch of troops against separatists in Chechnya in 1994 marked the beginning of a conflict that has killed tens of thousands dead over the past decade.

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