Former Russian President Boris Yeltsin Dead At 76

Moscow (AP) -- Former Russian President Boris Yeltsin is dead at age 76.

A Kremlin spokesman has told the Associated Press that Yeltsin died, but gave no cause of death or further information.

Russia's Interfax news agency cited an unidentified medical source as saying he had died of heart failure.

Yeltsin suffered from severe heart problems while in office.

During his nine years as Russia's first freely elected president, Yeltsin engineered the final collapse of the Soviet Union and pushed Russia to embrace democracy and a market economy.

He may be best known for standing atop a tank to resist an attempted coup in August of 1991. But many Russians remember him mostly for presiding over the steep decline of their nation.

Yeltsin led Russia into a humiliating war against separatist rebels in Chechnya that ended with Russia's pullout.

In the final years of his presidency, Yeltsin was dogged by health problems. He resigned on New Year's Eve 1999, several months before his term was to end.

Copyright 2007 by the Associated Press. All rights reserved.

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