Boris Yeltsin's Life in Politics
1961 -- Joins Communist Party of the Soviet Union at relatively late age of 30, attracted by reforms of Nikita Khrushchev.
1976 -- Named top party official of his native Sverdlovsk region east of the Ural Mountains.
1985 -- Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev brings Yeltsin to Moscow, puts him in charge of construction for the nation and names him party chief for Moscow (in effect, the city's mayor).
October 1987 -- Gorbachev, behind closed doors at Communist Party Central Committee meeting, accuses Yeltsin of acting out of personal ambition for complaining about slow pace of economic reforms.
November 1987 -- Yeltsin fired as Moscow party chief and hospitalized with heart condition.
February 1988 -- Dropped from Politburo.
March 1989 -- In stunning comeback, Yeltsin elected to Moscow's at-large seat in the Congress of People's Deputies, the new Soviet parliament.
September 1989 -- Newspapers report Yeltsin drinks heavily during first U.S. visit. Aides blame jet lag and sleeping pills for his unsteadiness.
May 1990 -- Federation parliament elects Yeltsin president of the Russian republic.
July 1990 -- Yeltsin quits Communist Party.
June 1991 -- Yeltsin is elected president of the Soviet Republic of Russia in the republic's first direct, popular presidential election.
August 18-21, 1991 -- Hard-liners attempt a coup against Gorbachev, the Soviet president, putting him under house arrest. Standing on tank outside the Russian parliament, Yeltsin denounces "traitors" and rallies crowds against them. Coup collapses, and Yeltsin emerges as the country's most powerful and popular politician.
December 8, 1991 -- Yeltsin and Gorbachev agree to dissolve the Soviet Union. Yeltsin and leaders of Belarus and Ukraine declare new Commonwealth of Independent States.
December 25, 1991 -- Gorbachev resigns in televised address, turns over nuclear codes to Yeltsin.
January 1992 -- Yeltsin begins to dismantle 75 years of Communism, wiping out state subsidies on all but basic goods. Later he privatizes numerous industries, drops honor guard at Lenin's Tomb in Red Square and closes Lenin Museum.
January 1993 -- Yeltsin and U.S. President George Bush sign START II (Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty) that commits each country to cut nuclear arsenals by one-third within 10 years and to eliminate all land-based multiple-warhead missiles.
September 1993 -- Yeltsin dissolves parliament and declares new elections. Parliamentary leaders resist the decree and name Vice President Alexander Rutskoi as the acting head of state.
October 1993 -- Hard-line Communists and right-wing nationalists attempt a coup, but Russian army units loyal to Yeltsin overthrow the rebellious legislators and arrest its main leaders, Rutskoi and Rusian Khasbulatov, parliament speaker.
December 1993 -- Yeltsin is given sweeping powers in a new constitution approved by Russian voters. The constitution also guarantees private property, free enterprise and individual rights.
August 1994 -- After a champagne lunch in Germany, Yeltsin appears in public. He stumbles, blows kisses to a crowd, sings boisterously and leads a band, bringing attention to his drinking again.
December 1994 -- Yeltsin sends troops into Chechnya to quash independence bid.
July 1995 -- Yeltsin hospitalized with heart disease; sets parliamentary elections for December 1995.
October 1995 -- Yeltsin again hospitalized with heart disease.
December 1995 -- Communists win big in parliamentary elections.
July 1996 -- Yeltsin wins re-election as president of the Russian Federation, despite disappearing from public view in the final weeks of campaigning. After the election, he cancels a meeting with U.S. Vice President Al Gore and remains out of public view. Aides cite a sore throat.
August 1996 -- Yeltsin looks tired while taking oath of office. Aides say he will take long vacation.
September 1996 -- Yeltsin's doctor says the president suffered a heart attack in June or July.
November 1996 -- Yeltsin undergoes quintuple heart surgery after temporarily transferring power to Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin.
January 1997 -- Yeltsin is hospitalized with double pneumonia shortly after returning to work. He remains away for several weeks.
March 1998 -- Yeltsin sacks the government of Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin and appoints Sergei Kiriyenko -- a 35-year-old banker relatively unknown to the West -- as new prime minister. The lower house of parliament, the State Duma, approves him one month later, but only after it is threatened with dissolution.
August 1998 -- Yeltsin ousts Kiriyenko days after his Cabinet defaulted on some debts and devalued the national currency, setting off an economic crisis. Yeltsin proposes reinstating Chernomyrdin.
September 1998 -- With the country's economic crisis worsening and the ruble nearly in collapse, Yeltsin sacks the entire Kiriyenko government. He nominates Viktor Chernomyrdin as prime minister, but the Duma rejects him. Finally, former Soviet spymaster and veteran foreign minister Yevgeny Primakov is named premier as a compromise choice.
October 1998 -- Yeltsin says little about the economic crisis and rarely appears in public. He cancels, or cuts short, several trips abroad and enters a rest home to recuperate from what is described as high blood pressure and exhaustion.
February 1999 -- Parliamentary panel sends five impeachment charges against Yeltsin to full house for debate.
May 1999 -- Eight months after his appointment as prime minister, Primakov is fired. Yeltsin wants close ally Sergei Stepashin to replace Primakov. Bid fails in the Duma to begin impeachment hearings.
August 1999 -- Yeltsin suddenly fires Stepashin without citing reason. He names Vladimir Putin prime minister. Yeltsin says Putin, who was head of the Federal Security Service and a former KGB officer, is his preferred successor in the presidential election set for March 2000.
September 30, 1999 -- Russia again sends ground troops into Chechnya.
December 31, 1999 -- Asking forgiveness for his mistakes, Yeltsin announces his resignation, six months before the end of his term, and says elections will be held in 90 days for a new president. Moments after assuming the post of acting president, in addition to prime minister, Putin signs a decree offering Yeltsin immunity from prosecution, a lifetime pension, a government country home and bodyguards and medical care for him and his family.
Back to the top