Boris Yeltsin proved to be an invincible leader. In the year 1985 he was made the first secretary to the Moscow Communist Party by President Mikhail Gorbachev. In the succeeding year he was elected to the Politburo. Subsequently, he was made the chairman of the Russian Supreme Soviet. In June 1991, he became the first elected president to Russia. His efforts at separating the Commonwealth of Independent States secured complete independence for Russia. Yeltsin faced several administrative setbacks and his economic and market reforms resulted in unrest and parliamentary disagreement.
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In November 1993 internal conflicts in parliament led to the seizure of the Russian Parliament Building. Subsequently, he emerged victorious and obtained greater presidential powers. Yeltsin faced serioushealthproblems, he had to frequently shuffle cabinet members and he had to countenance the armed conflict in Chechnya. Nevertheless, he was re – elected in 1996 (Yeltsin, Boris (1931 – ). In Andromeda Encyclopedic Dictionary of World History). Boris Yeltsin strongly believed in the socialist ideology of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union or the CPSU.
The party’s ideals of economic progress and socialequalityhad made him to join the CPSU in the year 1961. Gradually Yeltsin gained in importance in the party and became a member of the construction department of the party’s Sverdlovsk Oblast committee in the year 1968. His rise in this department was remarkable and by the year 1975 he became the secretary of the committee. In 1976 Boris Yeltsin was appointed the secretary of the Sverdlovsk Oblast committee by Leonid Brezhnev. This position enabled him to procure membership of the CPSU’s Central Committee in 1981.
He became an important leader in the CPSU and openly criticized perestroika or the political reforms introduced by Gorbachev. Later on Yeltsin followed Gorbachev’s policies, in order to reduce strained relations with the Western nations (Colton). President Yeltsin’s foreign minister was Andry Kozyrev favored a Western alliance. However, the Russian foreign policy did not change. Boris Yeltsin encountered his western counterparts on several occasions during international summits. He maintained friendly relations with US presidents George H. W.
Bush and Bill Clinton. He solicited US backing in international platforms such as the International Monetary Fund. Yeltsin was friendly with the European economic giants. Accordingly he maintained cordial relations with Helmut Kohl the Chancellor of Germany and leaders of France and the United Kingdom (Colton). Yeltsin was disinterested in NATO’s plans and he reluctantly acceded to its proposals to admit former non – Soviet bloc countries. In the year 1999 the NATO waged a war against Yugoslavia. This measure resulted in strained relations with Russia.
Subsequently, Yeltsin terminated all relations with NATO and this served to isolate Russia. However, Russia did not assist Yugoslavia to fight with NATO. Yugoslavia was compelled to agree to NATO’s proposals and had to accept foreign occupation of the Kosovo Province. Yeltsin ensured that Russia was included in the joint forces that occupied Kosovo. He made attempts to make an ally of China in Russia’s battle against the supremacy of NATO, further trade practices and mutual cooperation with China flourished in his era (Colton).
The economic and market reforms implemented by Yeltsin were opposed by the parliament. In 1993 the free market reforms created internal conflicts and military intervention had to be resorted to, in order to control the situation. Yeltsin was successful in these military operations. During the period 1994 to 1996 the Chechnya crisis developed and Yeltsin’s response to it invited international criticism. Moreover, the parliament was dominated by communist members who opposed and disagreed with him.
His power commenced to decline due to his ill health and much of his authority was transferred to the parliament owing to the constitutional conflicts of 1998, which emerged due the serious financial crisis. Despite these setbacks, Yeltsin reclaimed his powers by dissolving the government four times in the period 1998 to 1999. In May 1999 the parliament made an abortive attempt to impeach him. Eventually, he submitted his resignation on the 31st of December 1999 and Vladimir Putin succeeded him (Yeltsin, Boris (1931 – ). In The Macmillan Encyclopedia).
Boris Yeltsin had supported the Baltic States for independence. In order to achieve this he emphasized that there should be fundamental and radical reforms. Yeltsin relinquished his CPSU membership and contested in the presidential elections. He was elected president of the RSFSR or Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic. Yeltsin had always demanded autonomy for the member republics of the federal USSR. He also persuaded the Russian parliament to enact legislations to give the republic’s laws precedence over the laws of the Soviet parliament.
The congress bestowed emergency powers upon Yeltsin, which permitted him to rule by decree. This made him a popular president. After the futile coup, in 1991, against President Gorbachev, Yeltsin condemned the acts of the usurpers and demanded his reinstatement (Yeltsin, Boris Nikolayevich (1931 – ). In The Hutchinson Unabridged Encyclopedia including Atlas). Yeltsin’sleadershipcapability was severely tested during the economic crisis and subsequent deterioration of conditions in Russia. In September 1993 a coup attempt was made against him by the leaders of parliament, which was defeated.
The conservative political parties won the December elections and this unexpected victory forced Yeltsin to review his economic policies (Yeltsin, Boris Nikolayevich (1931 – ). In The Hutchinson Unabridged Encyclopedia including Atlas). Yeltsin was criticized for taking the military initiative in Chechnya. Although, a peace treaty was entered into with Chechnya in May 1997, the war did not stop. Yeltsin dissolved the entire cabinet in March 1998, which surprised both Russia and the Western nations. He also appointed the fuel and energy minister Sergei Kiriyenko to the post of the prime minister of Russia.
The Kiriyenko led government faced a major economic crisis, because of the sudden devaluation of the ruble in 1998. In the month of August in the same year, Yeltsin dismissed both Kiriyenko and the government. Yeltsin tried to appoint Viktor Chernomyrdin as the prime minister, but the Duma, which was dominated by communist members, rejected Chernomyrdin’s candidature for prime minister. This compelled Yeltsin to nominate Yevgeni Primakov as the prime minister. Subsequently, in May 1999, Yeltsin dismissed Primakov and his government.
Yeltsin took this decision following a debate, in the Duma, as to whether Primakov was to be allowed to continue or Sergei Stepashin was to be made the acting prime minister. He appointed Stepashin as the acting prime minister after impeaching Primakov. The Duma approved of Yeltsin’s actions and confirmed Stepashin as the prime minister. However, Yeltsin was criticized all over the world for hisfailureto resolve the crisis in Chechnya (Yeltsin, Boris Nikolayevich (1931 – ). In The Hutchinson Unabridged Encyclopedia including Atlas).
Yeltsin tried to continue the process of reforms but the conservative members of parliament opposed his initiatives. In order to evaluate the public’s attitude towards him, a referendum was conducted in 1993 in which he received a significant number of the votes. This prompted him to propose a new Russian constitution (Hough). Incidents like the confrontation with the hard core conservatives, which resulted in the dissolution of parliament and an armed conflict in which the Moscow parliament building was shelled, rendered Yeltsin’s political position very powerful.
However, there was growing opposition towards him and economic instability and the war in Chechnya made it very difficult for Yeltsin. He emerged victorious but his ill health prevented him from participating in active politics. Yeltsin used to take sudden decisions, which would cause a great deal of astonishment to everyone and a very telling instance is that of his resignation as president in the year 1999 (Yeltsin, Boris (Nikolayevich) (1 Feb 1931 –). In The Crystal Reference Encyclopedia).
In March 1998, President Yeltsin dismissed the government which included two prominent leaders, namely the prime minister and pro free market activist, Viktor Chernomyrdin and Anatoly Chubais, the first deputy prime minister. This action surprised the West which tried to improve trade practices with Russia. The sudden sacking of the government created tremors in the West. At this juncture, Yeltsin issued a communique that Russia would continue with the process of reforming the economy. This resulted in widespread disapproval in Russia, because of the economic setbacks that had lasted for years.
Consequently, Yeltsin attempted to pacify the West and to secure their confidence he appointed Sergei Kiriyenko as the acting prime minister, who was considered to be a committed reformist. The Duma accepted his candidature as acting prime minister in its third round of voting. Kiriyenko formed the youngest cabinet in Russia (Russian Federation. In The Hutchinson Unabridged Encyclopedia including Atlas). Boris Yeltsin brought about the dissolution of the USSR. Scholars acclaim the contributions of Yeltsin in establishing the post Soviet order in Russia.
Historians have named four men as having wrought change in this context, namely, Nikita Krushchev, Leonid Brezhnev, Mikhail Gorbachev and Boris Yeltsin. These four men constitute the four pillars of modern decentralized Russian politics. Krushchev attempted to reform the age old centralized political system, Brezhnev tried to consolidate and then adopt it, Gorbachev endeavored to transform it into a social democracy and Yeltsin attempted to destroy the whole system and replace it with a new system (Brown). Works Cited Brown, Archie.
Gorbachev, Yeltsin, and Putin: Political Leadership in Russia’s Transition. ISBN 0870031864: Carnegie Endowment, 2001, p45. Colton, Timothy J. ” Boris Yeltsin . ” Microsoft® Student 2008 [DVD]. Redmond, WA: Microsoft Corporation, 2007, 2007. Hough, Jerry F. Democratization and revolution in the USSR, 1985-1991 . ISBN 0815737483, p405: Brookings Institution Press, 1997. Russian Federation. In The Hutchinson Unabridged Encyclopedia including Atlas. 2005. 7 November 2007
In Andromeda Encyclopedic Dictionary of World History. 2001. 7 November 2007