"Today, on the last day of the outgoing century, I resign."
Russian president Boris Yeltsin announced, on television, Friday, his resignation as president of the Russian Federation; effective immediately. Acting president is Prime Minister Vladimir Putin. Presidential elections must be held in 90 days. Originally, the presidential election would have been held in June, 2000.
This shocking announcement took Russia and the world by surprise on this, the eve of the new millennium. With the recent Duma elections (Dec. 19th) still fresh, this event is certain to throw Russia into another chapter of political turmoil. Parties will, once again, be jockeying for votes.
It would appear that Yeltsin had waited for this Duma election and the resulting shift of power within the lower house of the Russian parliament from the Communists to the combined pro-Kremlin, centrist parties, to announce his resignation. In his television announcement, Yeltsin officially appointed PM Putin as acting President. Putin is Yeltsin's choice as successor to the presidency and is endorsed by the centrist parties. Putin has been Prime Minister since Yeltsin fired his government, for the third time in two years, on August 10, 1999.
Boris Yeltsin, age 68, has been president throughout the turbulent times of Russia's transition from that of a Communist nation to a democracy. He has seen good times and, most recently, times of extreme political and economic crisis. In his nation wide televised announcement, Yeltsin apologized to the Russian people for not meeting their hopes and expectations. This was a somber and sad announcement as Yeltsin left his country in new and younger hands as it enters the 21st century, later today.
According to the Russian Constitution, in the event of a presidential resignation, elections must be held within 90 days to elect a replacement (Section I, Chapter IV, Article 92, para 2) This presidential election has been set for March 26, 2000.
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