Boris Yeltsin, who orchestrated Russia's uneasy transition to democracy, died this morning, according to the Kremlin. He was 76. The cause hasn't been released, but Russia's first democratically elected leader had a history of heart problems. Yeltsin ascended to power after a struggle with reformer Mikhail Gorbachev, who finally ceded in November of 1991.
Two years later he ordered tanks to fire on parliament, where hardliners were holed up. Besides engineering the collapse of the USSR, Yeltsin will be remembered for the embryonic Russian Federation's most controversial move—its 1994 invasion of Chechnya—and the transfer of power to Vladimir Putin in 1999. Both decisions echo uncomfortably today.