How much do you know about the Russian Federation (formerly known as the Soviet Union)? If you have read the history of this country, then you might have come across the name, Boris Yeltsin. Boris had one of the most controversial presidential terms as the leader of the Russian Federation.
He came in when the country was still adjusting to the political and economic changes. Therefore, that might have worked against his wishes. In this article, we are going to separate facts from myths and give some of the main reasons why Boris Yeltsin is still a popular name in Russia’s history.
Boris Yeltsin: Interesting Facts about the First Russian President
1. Born to a Peasant Family
Perhaps the most unpopular fact about Boris Yeltsin is that he was a member of a low-income family. His father, mother, and siblings lived in Butka village. Nikolai Yeltsin and Klavdiya Starygina (his parents) were married since 1928.
Nikolai had a habit of beating up both the wife and children. As such, Boris became closer to his mother than the father. The 1932-33 famine made his life even worse as he had to survive with little to no food throughout his childhood.
2. Studied Civil Engineering
In 1949, Boris Yeltsin joined Ural Polytechnic Institute. He went on to train as an industrial and civil engineer, a career path that required intense knowledge on mathematics, soil science, materials, and physics, an interesting fact about Boris Yeltsin. Along with this course, he also had to study one foreign language for which he chose German.
Life was tough at the time, but fortunately, tuition was free. He was also provided financial support to accommodate him throughout this period. After classes, he worked casual jobs like unloading railway trucks to supplement his financial status.
3. Construction Career
Immediately after completing his studies in 1955, Boris joined the Lower Iset Construction Directorate as a trainee. A few months later, he had already built his reputation and was promoted through the ranks. By 1957, Yeltsin was a superintendent, and three years later, he was the head engineer of one of the company’s sections.
Throughout his construction career, which lasted until 1985, Boris Yeltsin was a popular figure at the company. As such, he constantly rose through the ranks in 1975; he was the secretary of the committee that headed the region’s industrial development.
4. He was not initially a politician
Many a time when we read through the histories of most politicians, we find that their passion in the field began when they were young. However, Boris never showed such characteristics in school and even at his workplace. In fact, while at Ural Polytechnic Institute, he avoided any involvement with political movements that were quite rampant at the time, an interesting fact about Boris Yeltsin.
5. He was regarded as a rebel
He became the first person ever to resign from the committee of Gorbachev’s party. The main reason for his resignation was the belief that the party was too moderate in such reforms. As such, he was branded as a rebel and gained anti-establishment popularity. He was elected to chair the Russian Supreme Soviet in 1990 as he went on to build his political career.
6. The most remarkable comeback
After falling off with the then ruling party and its leaders, he seemed to be at the edge of his political career. However, he built his popularity by being the most renowned advocate for democracy in the country at the time. He used this to his advantage and attracted more Soviet voters to his side.
With the introduction of competitive elections, Boris Yeltsin ran for a seat in the new parliament. In March 1989, he won a position in the U.S.S.R Congress of People’s Deputies. This success was just the beginning of what was to come later in his political journey.
7. The First Popularly Elected Russian President
After the collapse of the Soviet Union, the Russian Federation was formed and became a country in 1991. The Russian Federation was a democratic republic and was guided by its constitution that became more effective after 1993. Ever since, there have been four presidents, and the first of those was Boris Yeltsin, an important fact about Boris Yeltsin.
Boris took office on June 12th, 1991, with a popularity vote of 57%. It was obvious that everyone had high expectations and believed that he would deliver. Unfortunately, things did not work out as expected, and his popularity was tarnished; more on this later in the article.
8. Ambitious economic reforms
Whenever you mention the phrase “shock therapy,” the first name that comes into mind is Boris Yeltsin. The phrase usually refers to the sudden change of the country’s economic structures with the hope of improvements.
Boris Yeltsin ended price controls and privatized most companies that were initially owned by the state. As such, the resulting atmosphere was a market-oriented economy. However, the downside was the hyperinflation of prices and a wider gap between the rich and poor.
9. He was at the heart of the Chechnya deaths
Another significant part of Yeltsin’s era was the role he played in the invasion of Chechnya – former part of the Soviet Union. President Yeltsin feared that the secession of Chechnya would trigger a series of independence movements within the Russian Republic. He was also hoping to recover the valuable oil resources buried in the region.
As such, he ordered the Russian troops to invade the area, and it led to one of the biggest death tolls in the country. Thousands of Russian troops lost their lives due to the fierce resistance they faced in Grozny. The Chechen civilians also fell victims, with many of them dying throughout the two-year battle.
10. Resigned as president
Another quite unusual occurrence in Yeltsin’s political career was his resignation as Russia’s president, not a well-known fact about Boris Yeltsin. He came to this decision after facing enormous pressure from those around him. He had also become quite an unpopular figure with the civilians. Boris Yeltsin chose Vladimir Putin (who was a Prime Minister) as his successor.
I hope that this article on Boris Yeltsin facts was helpful. If you are interested, visit the Historical People Page!