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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Strain of a Tough Pace Showing on President

For a man of 61 with a history of heart disease, Boris Yeltsin is on a gruelling schedule this month.


The two-week-long session of the Congress of People's Deputies which ended on Monday could hardly have been more exhausting. All the forces of the president's opposition waited for the event and concentrated their efforts to bring down his government and weaken his authority.


Several rounds of negotiations, broken agreements and brinkmanship ended in partial defeat for Yeltsin. By the end he looked and sounded shaken, exhausted.


The late-night dealing had in fact begun weeks before the session opened, as Yeltsin tried -- with limited success -- to win over enough supporters to pre-empt a debacle.


Shortly before, in mid-November, Yeltsin made what should have been a triumphal visit to South Korea, marking the end of decades of hostile relations between the two countries.


As a gesture of friendship, Yeltsin turned over the flight recorder from the Korean airliner shot down by Soviet jets in 1983 with the loss of all lives on board. The gesture turned sour, however, when the Koreans realized that the essential information was missing from the black box. A diplomatic nightmare ensued.


Only hours after the Congress finished, Yeltsin received Chancellor Helmut Kohl of Germany for a two-day official visit and further negotiations. At the press conference that wound up Kohl's visit on Wednesday, Yeltsin lacked his usual punch and vigor.


Later the same evening, the president boarded a plane for China for what promises to be another gruelling visit. Yeltsin plays tennis and was a top-class volley ball player in his younger days. He makes much of his hale and hearty image.


But the president is now 60, is known to drink heavily on occasion and once collapsed with heart trouble during a Communist Party meeting in which he came under scathing criticism.