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4 Feb, 2019 15:40

‘Birthplace’ of Russia’s first president Yeltsin to be turned into firewood

‘Birthplace’ of Russia’s first president Yeltsin to be turned into firewood

The home where Russia’s first president Boris Yeltsin is said to be born won’t be rebuilt after a recent fire. The owners told locals that they’re free to use what’s left of the landmark as split wood, media reports.

On January 31, an explosion and a fire rocked a small one-story house in the village of Basmanovskoe in Russia’s Urals. The disaster occurred on the eve of Yeltsin’s birthday, which is celebrated on February 1.

When the firefighters arrived on site, the building was already badly burnt and couldn’t be saved. The owners, who were away at that time, lost all their property in the blaze.

Initially, there were reports that the home will be restored, but now it appears that the landmark is likely to be lost forever.

The Basmanovskoe administration said that the owners recently sent them a letter, announcing that “they don’t need the house anymore.”

“They suggested we tell the locals that if they need to, they may use the remaining walls as split wood,” they said, as cited by local media.

There’s some confusion about Yeltsin’s birthplace, as he himself wrote in his memoir that he drew his first breath in the village of Butka, some 17 kilometers away from Basmanovskoe. But most biographers, as well as the residents of Basmanovskoe, are confident that the first president’s family only moved to Butka when he was a few months old.

Yeltsin was Mikhail Gorbachev’s main rival during the final years of “perestroika,” becoming the first president of the new Russia after the collapse of Soviet Union in 1991. He oversaw the country’s switch to democracy, and the difficult transition from a state to a market-controlled economy. The man introduced the Russian constitution and offered cooperation with the West. But his rule was marred by the rise of insurgency in the southern republic of Chechnya and an ensuing conflict, which took a heavy toll on his ratings.

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He managed to win his second four-year term as president in 1996, but resigned on December 31, 1999, saying the famous words “I’m tired. I’m leaving.” and endorsing Vladimir Putin for the job. Yeltsin died on April 23, 2007, at the age of 76.

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