DATE=1/6/2000 TYPE=WORLD OPINION ROUNDUP TITLE=BORIS YELTSIN RESIGNS - PUTIN TAKES OVER NUMBER=6-11621 BYLINE=ANDREW GUTHRIE DATELINE=WASHINGTON EDITOR=ASSIGNMENTS TELEPHONE=619-3335 CONTENT= INTRO: The biggest foreign affairs news of the past week was Boris 's unexpected resignation on New Year's Eve as President of Russia. Around the globe, daily newspapers squeezed in the story on front pages filled with year's end festivities, as people ushered in the new century, and for some, the new millennium. Now, editorial writers in dozens of nations are busy analyzing Mr. 's move, and assessing the future for Russia under its new acting president, Vladimir Putin. We get a summary now from _____________ in this week's World Opinion Roundup. INTRO: Most newspapers considered Mr. 's surprise announcement a political masterstroke - which ensured that his popular, hand-picked successor would have the advantage of incumbency in the lead-up to the March presidential elections, and that he himself would be exempt from future prosecution. In considering Mr. 's tenure, however, there was a split between newspapers that saluted his "historic achievement in "dethroning communism" in what was the Soviet Union, while others held him accountable for the "chronic economic crisis, widespread criminality," and the "escalation of the nationalist and xenophobic mood in Russia" as exemplified by the Chechen war. We begin in Moscow, where Izvestiya ran this front page commentary: VOICE: Owing to the unique character . of Russia's first president, the system, clumsy and unbalanced as it was, worked without serious failures. No matter how much he wanted to gag the press, he never attempted to impose censorship. Governments changed often, but that was in keeping with the Constitution. He made many enemies, but he never persecuted people for political reasons, even when betrayed. ... He will be remembered as the architect of a democratic system in a country that, basically, is unfamiliar with democracy. TEXT: Turning Russia's Segodnya, we read: VOICE: No matter what people say about [Mr.] , his last moves show that he makes his own decisions. He quit when he wanted, making sure that his candidate will win the presidential election, his resignation ruining the others' chances. We don't know what kind of president [Mr.] 's "heir" will be, but we certainly won't have a communist party candidate for president. That, basically, is [Mr.] 's political legacy. TEXT: Across town, in Moskovskii Komsomolets, a youth-oriented daily, there was this: VOICE: Doubtless, that Boris has given up power on his own is a courageous move. But his New Year's Eve surprise has its dark side, too. It has virtually deprived [Mr.] Putin's potential rivals of a chance to prepare normally for the election ... As in Soviet times, they now face an election without a choice. That doesn't look like the triumph of democracy. TEXT: Moving to Western Europe, we check in London, where Britain's Financial Times wonders about Mr. 's successor: VOICE: Will he merely reveal himself to be the front man for Russia's oligarchs, as some commentators have suggested? Or will he prove to be the dynamic, reforming president that Russia needs, capable of charting a third way between communist authoritarianism and lawless capitalism? There remain many doubts about Mr. Putin's intentions ... TEXT: And a warm salute from The Times of London to the outgoing leader. VOICE: "Happy New Century, my dears." Boris 's last words to the Russian people as president capture ... the vast distance that Russia has galloped since this mercurial, charismatic giant, in the first of many comebacks, roared out of political oblivion in 1990 to become the first popularly elected leader in Russia's history. The journey from communist empire to pluralist national democracy has been rock-strewn. The years have brought undreamt-of freedoms and opportunities; but also huge uncertainties, misery for many and barely mastered turbulence. TEXT: We cross the channel to France, and get this outlook from the Paris daily, Le Figaro: VOICE: Vladimir Putin looks like a two-faced man. According to him, the war in Chechnya would be a rebuilding action ... He says Moscow is defending its national integrity against separatists ... [At the same time], he does not want to break with the West or the trade rules. On the contrary, [Mr.] Putin presents himself as a supporter of reforms, determined to keep the direction [Mr.] held for the past ten years. TEXT: For German reaction, its off first to Bavaria, where Munich's Sueddeutsche Zeitung suggests: VOICE: With [Mr.] Putin, [President] chose a successor who must prove to be a Hercules if he wants to resolve all (Russian) problems. He seems to have the necessary toughness. The future will tell whether he has the democratic steadfastness: Doubts are allowed. TEXT: In the financial capital, the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung sees the economic reasoning behind the change: VOICE: Vladimir Putin presented himself to his compatriots as Russia's new strong man. With this view, he got the support of many Russians since [President] 's lingering illness increasingly stood for economic stagnation and social backwardness. A change of generation at the leadership indeed seemed to be overdue. TEXT: For a Northern Italian viewpoint, we quote Il Sole-24 Ore in Milan as suggesting: VOICE: [Mr.] 's government is over, but not "ism." This is not the end of the family and its moguls ... TEXT: In the South of what used to be the Soviet Union, from Baku, Azerbaijan, we read in Zerkalo, where concern for fighting in the nearby Caucasus is high: VOICE: The events in Chechnya can still be used as a pre-election trampoline, and [Mr.] Putin is trying to gain points. His trip to Chechnya ... was not only the beginning of the pre-election campaign, but also showed the mood, aims and methods of the new Russian leader. TEXT: Quickly to Asia, and for Japanese reaction, we check in with Tokyo's Asahi, which notes: VOICE: It was typical of [President] to stun his country and the rest of the world by abruptly announcing his resignation ... The fulfillment of his commitment to a "civilized transfer of powers" will serve as a good precedent for creating a law-abiding nation in Russia ... It is not certain immediately how [Mr.] 's achievements will be evaluated historically. TEXT: In the subcontinent, the Times of India from New Delhi offers this view: VOICE: It is obvious that [Mr.] 's action is a calculated move to ensure that he will be succeeded in office by his hand-picked choice ... [Mr.] 's place in history will be subject to dispute among future chroniclers. TEXT: In Africa, we read in the Zambia Daily Mail from Lusaka: VOICE: The resignation of the former Russian strongman is a positive development, and one which sets a good precedent for that country ... Given the background of the former communist countries, where leaders never contemplated relinquishing power, but were only nudged out of office by death, [President] 's decision to stand down has great political significance for the country's future. TEXT: And lastly in Latin America, from Buenos Aires, Pagina 12's foreign affairs analyst sees things this way: VOICE: [Mr.] was a fervent enemy of communists. But not from the ideological point of view ... [Mr.] does not believe in democracy. From democracy, he learned that each vote has a price and that it is more advisable to resort to fraud. TEXT: On that note, we conclude this sampling of global press reaction to the sudden resignation of Russian President Boris . NEB/ANG/JP 06-Jan-2000 17:23 PM EDT (06-Jan-2000 2223 UTC) NNNN Source: Voice of America .