Boris Yeltsin

Boris Nikolayevich Yeltsin
Борис Николаевич Ельцин-1.jpg
President of Russia
In office
10 July 1991 – 31 December 1999
Prime Minister
Vice PresidentAlexander Rutskoy (1991–1993)
Preceded by
Succeeded byVladimir Putin
Head of Government of Russia as President of the Russian Federation
In office
6 November 1991 – 15 May 1992
Preceded byOleg Lobov (Acting)
(Chairman of the Council of Ministers — Government of the Russian SFSR)
Succeeded byYegor Gaidar (Acting)
(Prime Minister of the Russian Federation)
Chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the Russian SFSR
In office
29 May 1990 – 10 July 1991
Preceded byVitaly Vorotnikov
Succeeded byRuslan Khasbulatov
First Secretary of the Moscow City Committee of the Communist Party
In office
23 December 1985 – 11 November 1987
LeaderMikhail Gorbachev
(Party General Secretary)
Preceded byViktor Grishin
Succeeded byLev Zaykov
Personal details
Boris Nikolayevich Yeltsin

(1931-02-01)1 February 1931
Butka, Ural Oblast, Russian SFSR, Soviet Union
Died23 April 2007(2007-04-23) (aged 76)
Moscow, Russia
Resting placeNovodevichy Cemetery
Political partyIndependent (after 1990)
Other political
Communist Party of the Soviet Union (1961–1990)
Naina Yeltsina (m. 1956)
Children2, including Tatyana Yumasheva
ResidenceMoscow Kremlin
Alma materUral State Technical University

Boris Nikolayevich Yeltsin (Russian: Бори́с Никола́евич Е́льцин, IPA: [bɐˈrʲis nʲɪkɐˈlaɪvʲɪtɕ ˈjelʲtsɨn] (About this soundlisten); 1 February 1931 – 23 April 2007) was a Soviet and Russian politician who served as the first President of the Russian Federation from 1991 to 1999. A member of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union from 1961 to 1990, he later stood as a political independent, during which time he was ideologically aligned with liberalism and Russian nationalism.

Born in Butka, Sverdlovsk Oblast to a peasant family, Yeltsin grew up in Kazan. After studying at the Ural State Technical University, he worked in construction. Joining the Communist Party, which governed the Soviet Union as a one-party state according to Marxist-Leninist doctrine, he rose through its ranks and in 1976 became First Secretary of the party's Sverdlovsk Oblast committee. Initially a supporter of the perestroika reforms of Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, Yeltsin later criticised them as being too moderate, calling for a transition to a multi-party representative democracy. In 1987 he was the first person to resign from the party's governing Politburo, establishing his popularity as an anti-establishment figure. In 1990, he was elected chair of the Russian Supreme Soviet and in 1991 was elected President of the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic (RSFSR). Allying with various non-Russian nationalist leaders, he was instrumental in the formal dissolution of the Soviet Union in December that year, at which the RSFSR became the Russian Federation, an independent state. Yeltsin remained in office as president and was reelected in the 1996 election, although critics claimed pervasive electoral corruption.

Yeltsin transformed Russia's state socialist economy into a capitalist market economy by implementing economic shock therapy, market exchange rate of the ruble, nationwide privatization, and lifting of price controls. Economic collapse and inflation ensued. Amid the economic shift, a small number of oligarchs obtained a majority of the national property and wealth,[1] while international monopolies came to dominate the market.[2] During the 1993 Russian constitutional crisis, Yeltsin ordered the unconstitutional dissolution of the Supreme Soviet parliament, which responded by attempting to remove him from office. In October 1993, troops loyal to Yeltsin stopped an armed uprising outside of the parliament building; he then introduced a new constitution. Secessionist sentiment in the Russian Caucasus led to the First Chechen War, War of Dagestan, and Second Chechen War between 1994 and 1999. Internationally, Yeltsin promoted renewed collaboration with Europe and signed arms control agreements with the United States. Amid growing internal pressure, in 1999 he resigned and was succeeded by his chosen successor, former Prime Minister Vladimir Putin. Out of office, he kept a low profile, although was later given a state funeral.

Yeltsin was a controversial figure. Domestically he was highly popular in the late 1980s and early 1990s, although his reputation was damaged by the economic and political crises of his presidency and he left office widely unpopular with the Russian population.[3] He received praise for his role in dismantling the Soviet Union, transforming Russia into a representative democracy, and introducing new political, economic, and cultural freedoms to the country. Conversely, he was accused of economic mismanagement, overseeing a massive growth in inequality and corruption, and of undermining Russia's standing as a major world power.

Early life

Childhood: 1931–1949

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.[4] His family, who were ethnic Russians, had lived in this area of the Urals since at least the eighteenth century.[5] His father, Nikolai Yeltsin, had married his mother, Klavdiya Vasil'evna Starygina, in 1928.[6] Yeltsin always remained closer to his mother than his father;[7] the latter beat both his wife and children on various occasions.[8]

Yeltsin (second from left) with childhood friends

The Soviet Union was then under the rule of Joseph Stalin, who led the one-party state governed by the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. Seeking to convert the country into a socialist society according to Marxist-Leninist doctrine, in the late 1920s Stalin's government had initiated a project of mass rural collectivisation coupled with dekulakization. As a prosperous farmer, Yeltsin's paternal grandfather, Ignatii, was accused of being a "kulak" in 1930. His farm, which was in Basmanovo, was confiscated and he and his family were forced to reside in a cottage in nearby Butka.[9] There, Nikolai and Ignatii's other children were allowed to join the local kolkhoz (collective farm), but Ignatii himself was not; he and his wife Anna were exiled to Nadezhdinsk in 1934, where he died two years later.[10]

As an infant, Yeltsin was christened into the Russian Orthodox Church;[4] his mother was devout but his father unobservant.[11] In the years following his birth, the area was hit by the famine of 1932–33;[12] throughout his childhood, Yeltsin was often hungry.[13] In 1932, Yeltsin's parents moved to Kazan,[14] where Yeltsin went to kindergarten.[15] There, in 1934, the OGPU arrested Nikolai and sentenced him to three years in the Dmitrov labour camp, accused of anti-Soviet agitation.[16] 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.[17] In October 1936, Nikolai returned and in July 1937, the couple's second child, Mikhail, was born.[18] That month, they moved to Berezniki in Perm Krai, where Nikolai got work on a potash combine project.[19] There, in July 1944, they had a third child, the daughter Valentina.[20]

Between 1939 and 1945, Yeltsin received a primary education at Berezniki's Railway School Number 95.[15] Academically, he did well at primary school and was repeatedly elected class monitor by fellow pupils.[21] There, he also took part in activities organised by the Komsomol and Vladimir Lenin All-Union Pioneer Organization.[22] From 1945 to 1949, Yeltsin studied at the municipal secondary school number 1, also known as Pushkin High School.[23] 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.[24] Yeltsin again did well at secondary school,[25] and there took an increasing interest in sport, becoming captain of the school's volleyball squad.[26] 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.[27] With friends, he would go on summer walking expeditions in the adjacent taiga, sometimes for many weeks.[28]

University and career in construction: 1949–1955

In September 1949, Yeltsin was admitted to the Ural Polytechnic Institute in Sverdlovsk.[29] He took the stream in industrial and civil engineering, which included courses in maths, physics, materials and soil science, and draftsmanship.[30] 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.[30] Tuition was free and he was provided a small stipend to live on, which he supplemented by unloading railway trucks for a small wage.[31] Academically, he achieved high grades,[32] although temporarily dropped out in 1952 when afflicted with tonsillitis and rheumatic fever.[33] He devoted much time to athletics,[34] and joined the UPI volleyball team.[35] He avoided any involvement in political organisations while there.[34] 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.[36] It was at UPI that he began a relationship with Naina Iosifovna Girina, a fellow student who would later become his wife.[37] Yeltsin completed his studies in June 1955.[33]

In 1955 he was assigned to work with the Lower Iset Construction Directorate in Sverdlovsk, initially as a trainee in various building trades.[38] He quickly rose through the organisation's ranks. In June 1956 he was promoted foreman (master), and in June 1957 to work superintendent (prorab).[39] 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.[39] In February 1962 he was promoted chief (nachal'nik) of the directorate.[39] During this period he was largely involved in building residential housing, the expansion of which was a major priority for the government.[39]

In June 1963, Yeltsin was reassigned to the Sverdlovsk House-Building Combine as its head engineer.[39] In December 1965, he became the combine's director.[39]

He joined the ranks of the CPSU nomenklatura in 1968 when he was appointed head of construction with the Sverdlovsk Regional Party Committee. In 1975, he became secretary of the regional committee in charge of the region's industrial development. In 1976, the Politburo of the CPSU promoted him to the post of the First Secretary of the CPSU Committee of Sverdlovsk Oblast (effectively he became the head of one of the most important industrial regions in the USSR); he remained in this position until 1985.[40]

Other Languages
Afrikaans: Boris Jeltsin
العربية: بوريس يلتسن
aragonés: Boris Yeltsin
asturianu: Borís Yeltsin
Aymar aru: Boris Yeltsin
azərbaycanca: Boris Yeltsin
Bân-lâm-gú: Boris Yeltsin
беларуская (тарашкевіца)‎: Барыс Ельцын
Bikol Central: Boris Yeltsin
български: Борис Елцин
bosanski: Boris Jeljcin
brezhoneg: Boris Yeltsin
čeština: Boris Jelcin
Cymraeg: Boris Yeltsin
davvisámegiella: Boris Jeltsin
español: Borís Yeltsin
Esperanto: Boris Jelcin
euskara: Boris Jeltsin
français: Boris Eltsine
Gaeilge: Boris Yeltsin
galego: Boris Eltsin
客家語/Hak-kâ-ngî: Boris Yeltsin
한국어: 보리스 옐친
հայերեն: Բորիս Ելցին
hrvatski: Boris Jeljcin
Bahasa Indonesia: Boris Yeltsin
íslenska: Boris Jeltsín
ქართული: ბორის ელცინი
Kiswahili: Boris Yeltsin
Кыргызча: Борис Ельцин
latviešu: Boriss Jeļcins
lietuvių: Borisas Jelcinas
македонски: Борис Елцин
Malagasy: Boris Yeltsin
მარგალური: ბორის ელცინი
مازِرونی: بوریس یلتسین
Bahasa Melayu: Boris Yeltsin
Minangkabau: Boris Yeltsin
Nederlands: Boris Jeltsin
नेपाल भाषा: बोरिस येल्सिन
Norfuk / Pitkern: Boris Eltsin
norsk nynorsk: Boris Jeltsin
oʻzbekcha/ўзбекча: Boris Yeltsin
پنجابی: بورس یلسن
polski: Borys Jelcyn
português: Boris Iéltsin
română: Boris Elțîn
Runa Simi: Boris Yeltsin
sicilianu: Boris Eltsin
Simple English: Boris Yeltsin
slovenščina: Boris Jelcin
ślůnski: Boris Jelcyn
српски / srpski: Борис Јељцин
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Boris Jeljcin
svenska: Boris Jeltsin
татарча/tatarça: Борис Ельцин
Türkçe: Boris Yeltsin
vepsän kel’: Jel'cin Boris
Winaray: Boris Yeltsin
Yorùbá: Boris Yeltsin
粵語: 葉利欽
žemaitėška: Borisos Jelcins