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Russian ex-President Boris Yeltsin dies at 76

Former President Boris Yeltsin, who engineered the final collapse of the Soviet Union and pushed Russia to embrace democracy and a market economy, has died, a Kremlin official said Monday.

In 1991 he famously outmaneuvered former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev and then triumphed against parliament hard-liners in 1993. He was 76. Putin granted Yeltsin lifetime immunity from prosecution upon his resignation. In the interview with Wallace, Yeltsin insisted his health had improved, that his heart and emotional state were stable, but he did not appear well. Yeltsin says of his battle with alcohol, saying „I did struggle. Of course I did,” but says he has reduced his drinking since his 1994 heart attack.

He says he stopped drinking heavily back in 1994 after a heart attack left him noticeably weakened. He admits he concealed his 1996 heart attack from the public until after the election that year, saying, „I was confident about my health.” The former president, who estimates his net worth at $300,000, denies that he and his family have foreign assets hidden away. Confronted with statistics showing that the standard of living n Russia had fallen and that suicide, crime and alcoholism were increasing, Yeltsin said, „Your data is wrong. I don't believe your data.” Asked if he believed democracy was firmly established in the new Russia, Yeltsin answered, „Firmly.”

„America has not become more influential than Russia. It has not,” the former president insisted. Rarely seen in public since his resignation, Yeltsin had spent most his time at his dacha outside Moscow working on his memoirs. Former premier Mikhail Gorbachev, Yeltsin's predecessor, lives nearby, but he and Yeltsin have not met for years. Yeltsin would not elaborate on the reasons. (bbs.news, wfrv.com)