This is IN THE NEWS in VOA
This week, Russia buried its former president with full
honors in Moscow. Boris Yeltsin died Monday at age 76. He served from 1991 to
1999. He will always be remembered as Russia's first democratically elected
leader. But his record is seen as a mix of good and bad for the country.
Boris Yeltsin rose within the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. But in
1987 he rebelled against the Soviet system. He called for more reform. Within a
month, he was dismissed as party chief in Moscow.
He became a leader of Russia's political opposition. In 1989, he was elected
to the Soviet parliament. Two years later he was elected president of the
Russian republic -- at that time, the Russian Soviet Federal Socialist Republic.
Mikhail Gorbachev was president of the Soviet Union.
That same year, 1991, a group of plotters from the military, Communist Party
and KGB secret police tried to seize power. Leaders of the attempted overthrow
detained Mr. Gorbachev. But Mr. Yeltsin climbed onto an army tank in Moscow to
urge people to resist. The coup attempt failed.
Four months later, in December, Mikhail Gorbachev resigned and the Soviet
Yet in the years that followed Boris Yeltsin's heroic moment, his popularity
fell. In October of nineteen ninety-three, he ordered the army to shell the
parliament building to end an occupation by his opponents.
The next year, he ordered troops into Chechnya to crush a separatist
rebellion. The war that followed resulted in more than seventy-five thousand
deaths, mostly civilians.
Yet Mr. Yeltsin's presidency also led to open elections in Russia. It led to
private property rights and the right to free speech. He pushed for economic
reforms. But critics said those policies went too far, leaving millions of
Russians in poverty. They said the restructuring gave too much economic power to
a small number of very wealthy business people, known as oligarchs.
Boris Yeltsin had a history of heart problems and heavy drinking. He suffered
a heart attack between the first and second rounds of balloting in the 1996
presidential election. His condition, though, was kept hidden. In 1999, six
months before the end of his second term, Mr. Yeltsin resigned.
To take his place, he chose his prime minister, Vladimir Putin, a former KGB
spy. Mr. Putin was then elected president in 2000 and re-elected four years
later. This week he remembered Mr. Yeltsin as a man thanks to whom "a new
democratic Russia was born."
Political scientists say history will remember Boris Yeltsin as a leader who
was democratic in some ways but not in others. They say Russia under Mr. Yeltsin
was a far more open place than it was during Soviet times -- and more open than
it is now.
And that's IN THE NEWS in VOA Special English, written by Brianna Blake. I’m