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Boris Yeltsin (1931 - 2007) President of Russia 1991 - 1999

Boris Yeltsin was born on February 1, 1931 in Butka, Russia, the son of an Anti- Soviet and a seamstress. He was raised in Sverdlovsk in the region of Urals. Yeltsin received his secondary education from Urals Polytechnic Institute in 1955 as a construction engineer. He joined the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU) in 1961 where he worked on a variety of construction projects. From there Yeltsin worked up the ranks of the CPSU as member of the Politburo, the central policy-making and governing body of the CPSU. In April of 1985, Yeltsin was summoned to Moscow by CSPU General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev to be a member of a reform ideas team.

Soon after, the Politburo then elected him the First Secretary of the Moscow City Committee, otherwise known as the “mayor,” on December 24, 1985. In his new post, he acted to reform his Party Committee, and rid it of all corrupt officials. In doing this he quickly gained popularity among the Muscovites. However, Gorbachev’s reform actions were too slow for Yeltsin’s taste, and he started to openly criticize the conservativeness of Gorbachev’s communist leadership. Not only dissatisfied with Gorbachev’s leadership, Yeltsin lashed out at the Politburo for their slow pace of reform. Eventually he was dismissed as First Secretary of the Moscow City Committee, and was demoted to deputy chair of the State Committee for Construction.

Yeltsin’s criticism of the Politburo and Gorbachev, led to overall strong dissatisfaction of the CPSU. Gorbachev then took action; however, his attempts to lower Yeltsin’s popularity did the exact opposite. In May of 1990, he was appointed chairman of the Supreme Soviet for the Russian Soviet Federated Socialist Republic (RSFSR); a legislative body Gorbachev created. Yeltsin was supported by both democratic and conservative members of the Supreme Soviet, the highest ranking legislative body in the Soviet Union. To gain power, along with thirteen other USSR republics, the RSFSR adopted a declaration of sovereignty and quit the CPSU. In June of 1991, Yeltsin became the first popularly elected president of the independent RSFSR, now Russia. After Russia took the USSR’s seat in the United Nations, Gorbachev resigned and Yeltsin took over and eliminated the CPSU.

Vowing to change Russia’s economy to a free market economy endorsed by liberalization and privatization, Yeltsin was elected to a second term in 1996. He remained President until December 31, 1999 when he stepped down to let Vladimir Putin take his place. Boris Yeltsin died from a number of health problems in Moscow on April 23, 2007.

Research by Brittany O’Shea
Volunteer for the Cold War museum
Cosby High School

Sources:

Beyersdorf, Frank. “Boris Yeltsin.” United States at war: Understanding conflict and Society. 20080 ABC-CLIO. 29 Apr. 2008

“Bye-bye Boris; the death of Boris Yeltsin; Boris Yeltsin symbolizedthe best, and worst, of post- Communist Russia.(biography).” Global Agenda (April 24, 2007): NA. General One File. Gale. Chesterfield county High School. 29 Apr. 2008

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