Childhood & Early Life
Boris Yeltsin was born to Nikolai Yeltsin and Klavdiya Vasilyevna Yeltsina in the village of Butka. After the takeover of the harvest by the state, his family moved to Kazan, where his father made a living by working in a construction site. His mother worked as a seamstress.
In 1949, he took admission in Ural Polytechnic Institute and graduated from the same in 1955, majoring in construction.
Post attaining his graduation degree, he worked as a foreman until 1957 with the building trust Uraltyazhtrubstroy.
From 1957 to 1963 he worked in Sverdlovsk, and was promoted from construction site superintendent to chief of the Construction Directorate with the Yuzhgorstroy Trust. Meanwhile, in 1961, he joined the Communist Party.
In 1963, he was promoted as the chief engineer and by 1965 became the head of the Sverdlovsk House-Building Combine, with duties pertaining to the sewerage and technical plumbing.
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From the year 1968, he started contributing full time to the Communist Party. He was appointed head of construction with the Sverdlovsk Regional Party Committee.
In 1975, he was appointed as the Secretary of the regional committee in charge of the industrial development and the following year, became the First Secretary of the CPSU Committee of Sverdlovsk Oblast.
In 1985, when Gorbachev took to power, Yeltsin was appointed First Secretary of the Moscow Communist Party, with a task of sweeping out the corruption, thus reforming the political and social structure of the Communist nation.
In 1986, he was appointed as the nonvoting member of the Politburo. However, his alliance with Gorbachev met with a downfall as he criticized the latter for the slow pace of reform. This brought an end to his leadership at the Moscow party in 1987 and his removal from the Politburo in 1988.
Despite being demoted to the position of a deputy minister for construction, he did not get disheartened and turned the tables of his political fortune soon by winning a seat in the U.S.S.R. Congress of People’s Deputies in 1989.
In 1990, he was promoted to the chair of the President of the Russian Republic. He supported the rights of the Soviet Republics to greater autonomy and voiced his support for a market-oriented economy and a multiparty political system. Same year, he resigned from Communist Party.
In 1991, Yeltsin won 57% of the popular votes in the presidential elections and became the first elected President of Russian Federation. He assumed office on July 10, 1991.
In the August 1991 coup against Gorbachev, he openly voiced his stand against the coup and took to rest only after rescuing Gorbachev. For his act, he was greatly appreciated and applauded.
As President, he first set to put the failing economy of the country back on track. For the same, he terminated the government price subsidies on food and consumer goods and allowed the free markets and private enterprise to emerge.
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In 1993, he dissolved the Congress and proposed a new constitution for Russia. During his term, he put the democracy on hold for several times and used force occasionally. This was visible in the 1993 suspended Russian parliament due to a clash with the conservatives.
In 1994, he ordered the Russian troops to Chechnya to supress the rebels. However, the army failed to meet the order. This coupled with the failure of the economic reform to establish growth led to his declining popularity.
In the 1996 elections, he however made a strong comeback defeating communist opposition leader in the second round. At the start of his second term, he signed a peace treaty with Chechnya.
Much of the later years of 1990s witnessed major political changes in the country’s government. He dismissed four of his premiers and many of his cabinet members who were later re-appointed. This caused a major panic in the financial markets thus causing the 1998 Russian financial crisis.
In 1999, he raised a strong voice against the NATO military campaign against Yugoslavia and openly stated the Russian involvement if NATO deployed ground troops to Kosovo.
On December 31, 1999, he resigned from his post of the President, electing Prime Minister Vladimir Putin as the acting president. His resignation came as a shock and surprise to the world. He argued his stand by stating that Russia needed new political leaders to enter the new century on a positive note.
Post resignation, he maintained a low political profile rarely making public statements or appearances.
Awards & Achievements
His exceptional political career won him several prestigious Russian and soviet awards including, Order of Merit for the Fatherland, Order of Lenin, Order of the Red Banner of Labour, Order of the Badge of Honour and so on.
Countries across the globe conferred upon him their highest decorations such as Order of Francisc Skorina (Belarus), Knight Grand Cross of the Legion of Honour (France), Knight Grand Cross with collar of the Order of Merit of the Italian Republic (Italy), Order of Good Hope (South Africa), Grand Cross of the Order of the Cross of Vytis (Lithuania), Order ‘For Personal Courage’ (Mongolia) and Order of the Three Stars, (Latvia).
Posthumously, he was bestowed with the title, Honorary Citizen of the Sverdlovsk Oblast, Kazan, Samara Oblast, Yerevan (Armenia) and Turkmenistan.
Personal Life & Legacy
He tied the nuptial knot with Naina Iosifovna Yeltsina in 1956. The couple was blessed with two daughters Yelena and Tatyana in 1957 and 1959 respectively
He suffered from heart disease ever since he became the President. He breathed his last on April 23, 2007 due to congestive heart failure.
He was laid in state in the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour in Moscow. Two days later, he was cremated in the Novodevichy Cemetery.
A new memorial was built in Moscow’s Novodevichy Cemetery in 2008 to honor the contributions of the first President of Russia.