Timeline: Former Russian President Boris Yeltsin Read highlights of former Russian President Boris Yeltsin's life and career.
NPR logo Timeline: Former Russian President Boris Yeltsin

Timeline: Former Russian President Boris Yeltsin

A defiant Russian President Boris Yeltsin (left) clenches a fist before supporters in Moscow, calling on them for a general strike and to resist the pro-communist coup against Soviet President Gorbachev, Aug. 19, 1991. Dima Tanin/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

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Dima Tanin/AFP/Getty Images

A defiant Russian President Boris Yeltsin (left) clenches a fist before supporters in Moscow, calling on them for a general strike and to resist the pro-communist coup against Soviet President Gorbachev, Aug. 19, 1991.

Dima Tanin/AFP/Getty Images

In a televised address, President Boris Yeltsin dissolves the Russian parliament and sets elections in September 1993. Frederick Florin/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

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Frederick Florin/AFP/Getty Images

In a televised address, President Boris Yeltsin dissolves the Russian parliament and sets elections in September 1993.

Frederick Florin/AFP/Getty Images

Highlights of former Russian President Boris Yeltsin's life and career:

Feb. 1, 1931: Born to peasant parents in the Ural Mountains. Baptized in Russian Orthodox Church.

1937: Yeltsin's father is arrested in Josef Stalin's purges for unknown reason. He is later released.

1955: Graduates from Ural Polytechnic Institute and goes to work as a construction engineer in Sverdlovsk, now known by its pre-revolutionary name, Yekaterinburg.

1956: Marries Naina Girina, an engineer.

1961: Joins Communist Party at the relatively late age of 30.

1969: Becomes full-time party official in charge of construction in the Sverdlovsk region.

1976: Becomes top party official of Sverdlovsk region, making him the powerful boss of one of the Soviet Union's key industrial areas.

April 1985: Is brought to Moscow by Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, who puts Yeltsin in charge of construction for the entire Soviet Union.

Dec. 24, 1985: Named party chief for Moscow; shakes up party machine, fighting corruption and cutting back privileges for party workers.

Oct. 21, 1987: Complains at a closed-party Central Committee meeting about the slow pace of economic reforms.

Nov. 11, 1987: Is fired as Moscow party chief and hospitalized with heart problems.

Feb. 18, 1988: Is dropped from Politburo. Gorbachev says Yeltsin would never be allowed back in politics.

March 26, 1989: In stunning comeback, wins election to the Soviet parliament with 89.6 percent of the vote in Moscow.

September 1989: Newspapers report that Yeltsin drank heavily during first visit to United States; aides blame jet-lag and sleeping pills for his unsteadiness.

October 1989: Interior minister tells Soviet lawmakers that Yeltsin showed up at a guard post soaked and bedraggled on Sept. 28 and claimed he had been thrown into the Moscow River by unknown assailants. Yeltsin denies any attack. The incident is not explained.

March 4, 1990: Elected to the Russian Federation's new parliament from his hometown of Sverdlovsk.

May 29, 1990: Elected chairman of the Russian parliament, effectively making him president of Russia.

July 12, 1990: Quits the Communist Party in moment of high drama, walking out of a party congress.

June 12, 1991: Wins Russia's first popular presidential election.

Aug. 18-21, 1991: Defies a coup attempt by hard-liners who put Gorbachev under house arrest, but fail to detain Yeltsin. He climbs atop a tank in front of the Russian parliament building and urges tens of thousands of supporters to defend democracy. The coup collapses, and Yeltsin emerges as the country's most powerful and popular politician.

Dec. 8, 1991: Meets behind Gorbachev's back with the leaders of Belarus and Ukraine. They declare the Soviet Union extinct and agree to form a new Commonwealth of Independent States.

Dec. 25, 1991: Gorbachev resigns and turns over the nuclear codes to Yeltsin, who quickly moves into his Kremlin office.

Jan. 2, 1992: Begins to dismantle 75 years of Communist economics by lifting price controls on most goods. By the end of the year, parliament forces him to slow pace of change and fire reformers.

Jan. 3, 1993: Signs START II treaty, pledging a two-thirds cut in U.S. and Russian nuclear arms, at a summit with then-President George H.W. Bush in Moscow.

March 1993: Parliament strips him of many of his presidential powers, reneging on deal to hold referendum on who should wield ultimate power.

April 25, 1993: Wins nationwide referendum on his rule and reforms.

Sept. 21, 1993: Disbands Soviet-era parliament that had blocked economic reforms and announces new parliamentary elections for December.

Oct. 3, 1993: Declares state of emergency in Moscow after supporters of hard-line parliament overwhelm riot police and seize government buildings; dozens killed.

Oct. 4, 1993: Orders troops to surround parliament building and launches full-scale tank and artillery assault.

Dec. 12, 1993: Reformers fail to win majority in parliamentary elections, but a new constitution is approved giving Yeltsin sweeping powers and guaranteeing private property, free enterprise and individual rights.

Dec. 11, 1994: Sends troops into Chechnya, the Caucasus Mountains republic that declared independence on Nov. 1, 1991.

July 11, 1995: Is hospitalized for heart trouble. Convalescence takes nearly a month.

Oct. 26, 1995: Is hospitalized for nearly a month with heart problems, two days after returning from U.S. summit with then-President Bill Clinton. Aides cite exhaustion. Returns to Kremlin Dec. 29.

Dec. 17, 1995: Suffers political setback when the Communists win parliamentary elections and hold a majority together with other hard-liners.

Feb. 15, 1996: Says he will seek a second term as president, despite his unpopularity. Starts an energetic campaign pitting him and his reforms against the Communist Party leader, who promises to restore the Soviet Union and its policies.

June 1996: Disappears from public view after months of vigorous campaigning. Aides cite a sore throat; his wife says he has a cold. Months later, doctors say he suffered a mild heart attack.

July 3, 1996: Wins re-election despite being too ill to show up at his polling station.

Nov. 5, 1996: Undergoes multiple-bypass heart surgery. Before the operation, he temporarily transfers power to Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin.

Jan. 8, 1997: Is hospitalized with double pneumonia shortly after returning to work. He remains away from his office for several weeks.

March 23, 1998: Fires his entire government and chooses Sergei Kiriyenko, a little-known technocrat, as prime minister.

Aug. 17, 1998: Dismisses entire Russian government again amid economic crisis; selects Foreign Minister Yevgeny Primakov as prime minister.

Nov. 22, 1998: Is hospitalized with pneumonia and a fever, less than a month after entering a sanitarium for treatment of unstable blood pressure and extreme fatigue.

Jan. 17, 1999: Is hospitalized for bleeding ulcer.

May 12, 1999: Fires Primakov's government; appoints Interior Minister Sergei Stepashin as prime minister.

May 15, 1999: Easily survives an impeachment vote in the lower house of parliament.

June 20, 1999: Attends the last day of the Group of Eight summit in Germany on his first trip abroad since an abbreviated trip to Jordan in February for King Hussein's funeral.

Dec. 31, 1999: Stuns Russia and the world by resigning before his term expires in March 2000 and names Vladimir Putin, his prime minister and a former KGB agent, as acting president.

June 12, 2002: Says in an interview that he has no regrets about his role in the breakup of the Soviet Union, calling it necessary "to keep Russia whole."

September 2005: Undergoes successful hip surgery after falling while vacationing in Italy.

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)