In March 1998 Yeltsin unexpectedly dismissed Prime Minister Chernomyrdin and the rest of his cabinet. Yeltsin then appointed Sergey Kiriyenko, a young reformist with limited central government experience, as prime minister. Russia’s failing economy continued its steep decline, and in mid-1998 Yeltsin dismissed Kiriyenko and attempted to reinstate Chernomyrdin. Parliament rejected Chernomyrdin’s return as prime minister, approving Yeltsin’s compromise choice, foreign minister Yevgeny Primakov, in September. Primakov acquired significant power beginning in October 1998 after a series of illnesses left Yeltsin unable to handle many of his duties. In May 1999 Yeltsin dismissed Primakov, criticizing him for failing to revive Russia’s economy. Many observers said Yeltsin objected to Primakov’s growing popularity. A week later, Russia’s parliament approved Yeltsin’s choice for Primakov’s successor, interior minister and Yeltsin loyalist Sergey Stepashin.
Stepashin did not last long. In August, Yeltsin dismissed him, along with the rest of the cabinet, and named Vladimir Putin, the head of Russia’s domestic intelligence service, as Stepashin’s replacement. Yeltsin stated that when his term ended in July 2000, he wanted Putin to succeed him as president. To some observers the selection and endorsement of Putin, a loyal Yeltsin ally, signaled an attempt by Yeltsin to ensure his succession by a friendly replacement. Yeltsin resigned unexpectedly on December 31, 1999, and named Putin acting president. Yeltsin said he was stepping down to make room for a younger generation of political leaders. The timing of Yeltsin’s resignation, which came six months before his second term formally ended, appeared designed to boost Putin’s chances of winning an early presidential election. The decision to resign may also have been linked to Yeltsin’s poor health. "Russia" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia.
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