July 10, 1991: Yeltsin Inaugurated

Boris Yeltsin, once a great outsider in Soviet politics, took the oath of office as president of Russia on July 10, 1991. Yeltsin was the first elected president of the Russian republic, winning 57 percent of the vote in the June election.

He pledged to defend the sovereignty of the republic, swore to defend human rights, and to fight for the "liberation of the individual" and end abuses.

Everything about the ceremony was new.

It was the first democratic inauguration in Russia's ancient Kremlin. The symbolism was pointedly anti-communist.

The head of the Russian Orthodox Church blessed Yeltsin in the name of religious leaders of all faiths.

In his inauguration speech, Yeltsin said that the state cannot guarantee or deliver everything to everyone. "The initiative and entrepreneurship of the citizens will provide for the welfare of the families of Russia and will become the source of the country's revival of our state" he said.

He promised to roll back the harm done since the Bolshevik Revolution. Some called this Yeltsin's bloodless revolution.

Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev joined that day's official events late in the morning. He congratulated his rival, saying he looked forward to working with Yeltsin to further reform the country. At the time, it seemed that the audience was carefully watching and wondering if the two most powerful men in the Soviet Union could really work together for change.