On this day in 1991, Boris Yeltsin was elected president of the R.S.F.S.R. — the Russian republic within the U.S.S.R.
In a March referendum the population in Russia had voted to create the office of the president and vice president. The Russian Congress of People’s Deputies then adopted legislation to authorize and organize the elections.
Yeltsin and his running mate, Afghanistan veteran Alexander Rutskoi, ran against Nikolai Ryzhkov from the Communist Party, Vladimir Zhirinovsky from the Liberal Democratic Party, and three independents: Aman Tuleyev, Albert Makhashov and Vadim Bakatin. Most of the Soviet central media, both print and electronic, strongly supported Nikolai Ryzhkov. Only the few pro-Yeltsin print publications and RTR (then the television station run by the R.S.F.S.R., now Russia-1) gave Yeltsin any positive coverage, and in many parts of Russia, signal interference blocked RTR reception.
Despite these efforts, turnout was almost 75 percent and Yeltsin won with 58.6 percent of the vote. In his home city of Sverdlovsk, he received almost 90 percent of the vote.
In these same elections, Anatoly Sobchak was elected mayor of Leningrad and Gavriil Popov was elected to the office of Moscow mayor. In Leningrad and Sverdlovsk voters in a referendum chose to return their cities’ original names of St. Petersburg and Yekaterinburg.