Boris Yeltsin became the first president in Russia after the dissolution of the Soviet Union. He was also the first freely elected leader in the whole history of Russia going back to a thousand years!

President Yeltsin presented a new constitution in 1993 which was approved by the Russian voters. It gave strong powers to the president, leaving the Russian parliament comparatively weaker. Yeltsin abandoned some of the basic ideas that the Soviet Union had held dear. He allowed private ownership of property and brought in a free market, and did away with price controls. Many of the state assets were privatized. Yeltsin also supported a free press, and agreed to a reduction in nuclear arms.

Yeltsin’s reforms made a section of the people very wealthy, but many were left poor. He also invited criticism against Russia by sending troops to Chechnya in 1994, causing the death of many. Yeltsin announced his resignation on December 31, 1999, and named Vladimir Putin as his successor. He died on April 23, 2007.

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