Former President Boris Yeltsin, who engineered the final collapse of the Soviet Union and pushed Russia to embrace democracy and a market economy, has died, a Kremlin official said Monday. He was 76.Here is my favorite Boris Yeltsin moment.
Kremlin spokesman Alexander Smirnov confirmed Yeltsin's death, but gave no cause or further information. The Interfax news agency cited an unidentified medical source as saying he had died of heart failure.
Although Yeltsin pushed Russia to embrace democracy and a market economy, many of its citizens will remember him mostly for presiding over the country's steep decline.
He was a contradictory figure, rocketing to popularity in the Communist era on pledges to fight corruption — but proving unable, or unwilling, to prevent the looting of state industry as it moved into private hands during his nine years as Russia's first freely elected president.
Yeltsin's greatest moments came in bursts. He stood atop a tank to resist an attempted coup in August 1991, and spearheaded the peaceful end of the Soviet state on Dec. 25 of that year. Ill with heart problems, and facing possible defeat by a Communist challenger in his 1996 re-election bid, he marshaled his energy and sprinted through the final weeks of the campaign. The challenge transformed the shaky convalescent into the spry, dancing candidate.