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Yeltsin didn’t ‘hand over’ presidential power, Putin says, notes constitutional procedures

Vladimir Putin expressed his hope that, one day, he would be able to name a person he considers worthy of leading Russia

MOSCOW, June 30. /TASS/. The first President of the Russian Federation Boris Yeltsin did not "hand over" presidential power to Vladimir Putin, Putin himself said during the Direct Line Wednesday, underscoring that he became an Acting President in accordance with the law as then-Prime Minister.

"Boris Nikolayevich Yeltsin did not hand this power over to me. Under our law, our basic law [the Constitution], when a president resigns, then a Chairman of the Government of the Russian Federation becomes an Acting President. I was the Chairman of the Government," Putin said.

The President acknowledged that certain events preceded this decision.

"At some point, I was the Director of the Federal Security Service (FSB), and, when Boris Nikolayevich offered me to become the Secretary of the Security Council — a structure that coordinates security agencies on a political level in the name of the president — I had to find a replacement for the office of the FSB Director," Putin said. He added that, to his surprise, the people to whom he offered this position, declined. "Why? The situation in the country was very difficult, and few wanted to take such responsibility upon them," the President said.

Moreover, when Yeltsin offered Putin to run for the presidency, Putin himself said he did not consider himself ready.

"He told me: ‘we will return to this, and you think about it in the meantime.’ Eventually, indeed, Boris Nikolayevich resigned, I became the Acting President, but the decision on who should lead the Russian state in the end is always for the Russian citizens to make," the President concluded, underscoring that this is the only possible way for the transition of power.

He expressed his hope that, one day, he would be able to name a person he considers worthy of leading Russia.

"Of course, a time will come and, I hope, I would be able to say that one or another person, in my opinion, is worthy of leading such a great country as our Motherland, Russia," he said.

He said he considers it his responsibility to provide recommendations to the people who would run for the presidential office after him.

"As for those people or a person who could lead the country: on the one hand, as they say, a hallowed place is never empty, and there are no irreplaceable people. On another hand, it is of course my responsibility to provide recommendations to the people that aspire to the presidential office," he said, stating that this is how it happens in all countries.