The issue of whether a departing Russian president should receive legal protection from prosecution on political grounds has been a matter of considerable debate. But Putin moved swiftly to end such speculation.
"A president who has ceased carrying out his duties enjoys immunity," said the decree, signed by Putin.
"He cannot be liable to legal or administrative responsibility, detained or arrested, his premises cannot be searched, he cannot be interrogated or subjected to a body search."
The immunity given to Yeltsin, who resigned earlier on Friday, was in a decree referring to all future ex-presidents rather than to him personally.
It was reminiscent of guarantees given by U.S. President Gerald Ford to his predecessor Richard Nixon in 1974.
Yeltsin's political foes failed earlier this year to impeach the president on five charges, ranging from ruining the economy and armed forces to crushing the 1993 rebellion of the hard-line parliament elected in the Soviet era.
Some politicians had suggested the best way to provide security for the ex-president would be to grant him the title of life member of the Federation Council upper house of parliament.
Putin's decree did not mention this. It listed the benefits to be given to all Russian ex-presidents and members of their families.
Under the decree, Yeltsin also receives:
- A pension of 75 percent of the presidential salary. The pension is suspended if the ex-president takes any official post.
- Security guards for ex-president and members of his family.
- Medical insurance and medical services similar to ones the ex-president enjoyed when in office.
- A state residence.
- A staff of aides and premises for an office.
- Pensions for members of families after ex-president dies.
- A right to use cars and medical services for members of ex-president's family for five years after he dies.