Russia: Changing Guard at the Kremlin

On the last day of the millennium, Boris Yeltsin surprised the world by resigning as president of Russia. His action automatically elevated his protégé, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, to the post of acting president. Putin, boosted by the parliamentary elections of 19 December, now looks certain to win the presidential elections, brought forward from June to 26 March.

The World Today
5 minute READ

Martin Nicholson

Author, Towards a Russia of the Regions

Yeltsin’s move was designed to serve his own interests. It may also serve Russia’s – by shortening the period of uncertainty between the two sets of elections and hastening the time when the conflict in Chechnya can be taken out of the electoral context.

The economic and political crisis of August 1998 severely weakened Boris Yeltsin’s presidency. His main concern thereafter was to leave office with dignity. He looked for a successor who would be both loyal enough to guarantee his own and his family’s security and popular enough to be electable. This was a difficult equation given the collapse of Yeltsin’s own popularity.

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