Former Russian premier Yeltsin dead

FORMER Russian president Boris Yeltsin has died at the age of 76.Mr Yeltsin oversaw the Soviet Union's demise and became Russia's first president.He announced his retirement on the last day of the 20th Century, handing over the presidency to Vladimir Putin.

FORMER Russian president Boris Yeltsin has died at the age of 76.

Mr Yeltsin, who had a history of heart trouble, died unexpectedly, of heart failure, in hospital.

During his political career he oversaw the Soviet Union's demise and became Russia's first president.

He announced his retirement on the last day of the 20th Century, handing over the presidency to Vladimir Putin.

Mr Yeltsin's eight years in power brought immense changes to Russia - he banned the Communist Party and introduced a new constitution which concentrated all real power in the hands of the president.

Mr Yeltsin's final years in office were overshadowed by increasingly erratic behaviour and bouts of ill-health which were accompanied by rumours of a drinking problem.

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