Install

Get the latest updates as we post them — right on your browser

. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Yeltsin Said By Premier To Be Hard At Work

Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin flew back to Moscow on Tuesday from a 24-hour visit with Boris Yeltsin on the Black Sea declaring that the president was hard at work and that rumors of his ill health were "insulting."


Chernomyrdin, who flew to the resort town of Sochi where Yeltsin is vacationing after a weekend of speculation about a possible coup plot, angrily dismissed reports that the president's absence was due to poor health as "false rumors" aimed at "destabilizing the situation."


"Yesterday I worked with Boris Nikolayevich for nearly four hours. The work was continued this morning," Itar-Tass quoted Chernomyrdin as saying Tuesday before boarding his plane back to Moscow. "We resolved a whole range of questions."


Yeltsin's aides also took pains to dismiss the health rumors by issuing heated denials that anything was wrong and releasing unusually detailed lists of the president's activities.


Ostankino television announced Tuesday that Yeltsin is returning from his trip at the end of the week, two or three days early. He left town March 14 on what was described as a two-week working vacation. The news program said that Yeltsin needs to prepare for a meeting Monday with Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev.


Yeltsin left for his unannounced holiday in Sochi after a prolonged absence from public view ascribed to a cold that turned into flu.


Not long after he left, a coalition of opposition parties and movements formed a bloc with the proclaimed goal of reversing the course Yeltsin had set for Russia. The president's chief rival, Alexander Rutskoi, joined the coalition and later announced he was ready to run for president.


Then last Friday an anonymous document purporting to give details of a planned putsch against Yeltsin by his own aides made the rounds in parliament and was published in a Moscow newspaper.


Sergei Filatov, Yeltsin's chief of staff, said in a statement issued by Itar-Tass that the document and rumors that Yeltsin was ill were designed to sabotage the president's attempts to reach an accord with his opponents.


"The main aim of the opposition during the president's holiday is to create a situation where it would be possible to demand early presidential elections, for there are too many people who can't wait to occupy the post of head of state," the statement said.


Yeltsin's press secretary, Vyacheslav Kostikov, released an equally angry statement denouncing the document as disinformation.


"Lately the attempts at disinformation about the health of Boris Yeltsin are multiplying. Despite explanations by the press office that the president's health gives no cause for concern, the disinformation is persistently repeated," Kostikov said.


"Its goal is to destabilize the country and return to the tasks that the participants in the October uprising were unable to complete on their first try."


The document about the alleged plot, Kostikov added, "creates the impression that the lessons of October 1993 did not last long."


To underline Yeltsin's good health, Kostikov said that the president had signed 81 decrees and statements during his holiday, took a helicopter tour and was prevented from playing tennis only by bad weather.


First Deputy Prime Minister Oleg Soskovets and Yeltsin's former aide Mikhail Poltoranin, who were named as coconspirators in the anonymous document, meanwhile vehemently denied any role in any plot to topple the president.


Russia's acting public prosecutor, Alexei Ilyushenko, said Monday that he intended to get to the bottom of the plot scenario and file criminal charges for libel against its creators if it proved unfounded. He said he was acting on a request by Soskovets.


Former Foreign Trade Minister Sergei Glazyev, who is a founding member of the new opposition bloc, Accord for Russia, also denounced the coup warning, but gave a different interpretation. Glazyev, now a senior member of parliament, said that the document was an attempt to discredit the new opposition alliance.


One of the leaders of Accord for Russia, former Constitutional Court chairman Valery Zorkin, faced his own challenge, meanwhile, as fellow justices demanded his resignation.


Zorkin was removed as chairman after the October uprising, and Yeltsin suspended the court. Now the justices are arguing that his political role in Accord for Russia disqualifies him continuing as a justice on the court in any capacity.