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Friday, 31 December, 1999, 17:13 GMT
Putin: "No vacuum after Yeltsin resignation"

Russia's acting president, Vladimir Putin, has said there will be no power vacuum in the country after the resignation of Boris Yeltsin.

In his first speech after Mr Yeltsin's surprise announcement, Mr Putin said the authorities would take firm action against any attempts to destabilise the country.

But he also promised the government would uphold human rights.

Mr Putin will act as head of state until the presidential elections in March.

Announcing his resignation, Mr Yeltsin apologized to Russians for his failure to justify their hopes, and said Russia needed new politicians for the new century. President Yeltsin, who is sixty-eight, has been in office for eight years marked by crisis and flawed attempts to build a market economy which attracted the animosity of many Russians.

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