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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

President Goes On Vacation

Boris Yeltsin left Moscow on Monday for a previously unannounced 12-day vacation and his main political rival, Ruslan Khasbulatov, immediately called for a vote of confidence in the president.


A presidential spokesman said that Yeltsin, 62, would be resting at a sanatorium outside Moscow and that all meetings with foreign visitors had been officially canceled.


"The president is healthy but very tired from his heavy schedule", the head of his press service, Anatoly Krasikov, said.


The sudden announcement that Yeltsin had left for a holiday came just one day before he was to hold new crisis talks with Khasbulatov, the parliament speaker, on a referendum that is scheduled to take place in less than two months.


The two men have been embroiled in a bitter dispute over the separation of powers in Russia. Yeltsin had hoped that the April 11 referendum would confirm the primacy of the presidency over the legislative branch, but the vote has come under fire and looks increasingly in doubt.


Only hours after Yeltsin's vacation was announced, Khasbulatov proposed that a separate vote of confidence in the president accompany the referendum, according to Interfax.


It said that Khasbulatov had made his proposal at a weekly meeting of the presidium, the parliament's agenda-setting body. He also called for votes of confidence in the Congress of People's Deputies, the Supreme Soviet, and the federal government, as well as repeating his proposal for early presidential and parliamentary polls in 1994.


Yeltsin and Khasbulatov had been due to meet twice this week to tackle their differences. Spokesmen for both men said that they might still meet Tuesday afternoon or evening in the country.


"The two men will decide for themselves", Krasikov said. Khasbulatov's press spokesman, Konstantin Zlobin, said their meeting had not officially been canceled.


Yeltsin, who has a history of heart trouble, has been known to disappear from public view at crucial political moments. His last vacation was in August, during the anniversary of the coup.


He is also known for impulsive moves. In December, he cut short a historic visit to China and returned suddenly to Moscow amid rumors that his new prime minister, Viktor Chernomyrdin, was planning cabinet appointments that would jeopardize economic reform.


Yeltsin had been due to meet with Foreign Minister Roland Dumas of France on Tuesday, but the trip was "postponed by mutual agreement for reasons of scheduling", Reuters reported from Paris, quoting a spokesman for Dumas.


Krasikov said that Yeltsin had planned his vacation before meeting with Khasbulatov last Thursday, when the two men set dates for this week's meetings on the referendum.


The poll is to ask Russian citizens to decide on the principles of a new constitution, and primarily whether Russia should be a presidential or parliamentary republic.


While Yeltsin supports a strong executive presidency and wants the referendum to go ahead, Khasbulatov opposes the vote and believes the legislature should remain the higher authority, as is guaranteed under the present Brezhnev-era constitution.


Yeltsin remains almost alone in his support for the referendum, as a growing number of politicians have warned that it could lead to anarchy. Leaders of several autonomous regions and republics throughout Russia have warned that they will ignore the vote.


If the vote is called off, the president could face his second humiliation in two months from his conservative opponents. He must then find another way to obtain the stronger presidential powers he deems necessary to carry out reforms.