Following are excerpts of Russian President Boris Yeltsin's resignation announcement, made Friday in Moscow:
I have always said that I would not depart one bit from the constitution. That Duma [parliamentary] elections should take place in the constitutionally established terms. That was done [on Dec. 19]. And I also wanted presidential elections to take place on time--in June 2000. This was very important for Russia. We are creating a very important precedent of a civilized, voluntary transfer of power, power from one president of Russia to another, newly elected one.
And still, I made a different decision. I am leaving. I am leaving earlier than the set term.
I have understood that it was necessary for me to do this. Russia must enter the new millennium with new politicians, new faces, new, intelligent, strong and energetic people.
As for those of us who have been in power for many years, we must go.
Seeing with what hope and faith people voted in the Duma elections for a new generation of politicians, I understood that I have completed the main thing of my life. Already, Russia will never return to the past. Now, Russia will always move only forward.
And I should not interfere with this natural march of history. To hold onto power for another half-year, when the country has a strong man who is worthy of being president and with whom practically every Russian today ties his hopes for the future? Why should I interfere with him? Why wait still another half-year? No, that's not for me! It's simply not in my character!
Today, on this day that is so extraordinarily important for me, I want to say just a few more personal words than usual.
I want to ask for your forgiveness.
For the fact that many of the dreams we shared did not come true. And for the fact that what seemed simple to us turned out to be tormentingly difficult. I ask forgiveness for not justifying some hopes of those people who believed that at one stroke, in one spurt, we could leap from the gray, stagnant, totalitarian past into the light, rich, civilized future. I myself believed in this, that we could overcome everything in one spurt.
I turned out to be too naive in something. In some places, problems seemed to be too complicated. We forced our way forward through mistakes, through failures. Many people in this hard time experienced shock.
But I want you to know. I have never said this. Today it's important for me to tell you. The pain of each of you has called forth pain in me, in my heart. Sleepless nights, tormenting worries--about what needed to be done, so that people could live more easily and better. I did not have any more important task.
I am leaving. I did all I could. . . . A new generation is relieving me, a generation of those who can do more and better.