1991 Presidential Election
original decision to hold a presidential election in 1991 in the
Russian Federation, which was then still part of the old Soviet
Union, was part of his long-standing rivalry with Mikhail Gorbachev.
In the 1991 election, which became the Russian people’s first-ever
chance to freely elect their leader, Boris Yeltsin was triumphantly
elected Russia’s first president for a five-year term. At that time,
there was no constitution to define his powers, and they literally
became his for the taking.
As Yeltsin was
then seen as the chief guarantor of reform – especially after his
firm pro-democracy stance during the failed August 1991 coup – he
had a popular mandate to expand his powers in order to implement
reforms. However, by the end of 1992, a conflict emerged between
Yeltsin and the then Russian parliament, the Supreme Soviet, which
had been elected in 1990 before the breakup of the Soviet Union.
1993 Yeltsin dissolved the parliament and began to rule by decree
pending a new parliamentary election in December. That led to the
first major incident of fighting in the streets of Moscow since
1917, as armed hard-line protesters were besieged in the
parliamentary headquarters and later attacked and captured by troops
remaining loyal to the president. The
events of October 1993 – the first major crisis of Yeltsin’s
presidency – could be said to have only partly resolved the conflict
between Russia’s presidency and legislature.