Vladimir Putin: Dear friends,
On New Year’s Eve, my family and I planned to gather round the TV, just as you probably did, to listen to the address by President Boris Yeltsin. But things took a different turn.
On December 31, 1999, Russia’s first president decided to resign. He has asked me to address the Russian people today.
The powers of the head of state have been turned over to me today. The presidential election will be held in three months. I assure you that there will be no vacuum of power, not for a minute. I promise you that any attempts to act contrary to the Russian law and constitution will be cut short.
The state will stand firm to protect the freedom of speech, the freedom of conscience, the freedom of the mass media, ownership rights, these fundamental elements of a civilised society. The Armed Forces, the Federal Frontier Service, and law-enforcement agencies are working in the usual regime. The state continues to uphold the safety of every Russian citizen.
When making his decision to stand down, the president acted in full compliance with the constitution. We will be able to see the true importance of what Boris Yeltsin has done for Russia only after some time has passed. However, it is clear already now that it was thanks to the President that Russia has opted for democracy and reform and is moving towards these goals, and has become a strong and independent state.
I wish health and happiness to Boris Yeltsin, the first President of Russia.
The New Year has always been the most cherished, the kindest and the most loved holiday in Russia. It is a holiday when dreams come true, and this is especially so this year. I believe that the good dreams we have will certainly come true.
The new year will begin in a few seconds. Let us smile at our friends and relatives, and wish each other warmth, happiness and love. Let us drink to Russia in the new millennium, to love and peace in every home, to our parents’ and children’s health.
Happy New Year, Happy New Millennium!