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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Get Better, Yeltsin Tells Ill Nixon

President Boris Yeltsin on Wednesday sent a telegram to former U.S. president Richard Nixon, wishing a speedy recovery to the man he angrily snubbed just a month ago in Moscow.


Nixon, 81, remained in a critical condition with swelling of the brain in a New York hospital, a complication from a stroke that left him partially paralyzed on his right side and unable to speak.


"I hope you recover and return to the rough and tumble of political life," Yeltsin said, praising Nixon for his efforts at "normalizing Russian-American relations" and his "great political experience."


Nixon angered Yeltsin during a 10-day trip to Russia last month by meeting with some of Yeltsin's bitterest enemies, prompting the Russian president to cancel their scheduled meeting and take away the bodyguards and sedan he had put at Nixon's disposal.


Nixon, who carved out a role for himself as an elder statesman after leaving office in disgrace in 1974, has been a frequent visitor to Russia, making 10 trips in 35 years.


Since the 1991 Soviet collapse, Nixon has strongly urged the United States to support Russia's reformers, including Yeltsin.


After his March trip, Nixon wrote: "It is a miracle that the new Russian revolution still shows promise. The reformers may fall even with our help. They will certainly fall without it."


Nixon was returned to intensive care late Tuesday, two hours after leaving the unit for a private room. On Wednesday, his condition deteriorated and for the first time since he was stricken at his home in New Jersey on Monday evening, doctors described his stroke as "major."


"One has to say his prognosis is guarded," Dr. Fred Plum, chief of neurology at New York Hospital-Cornell Medical Center, said late Tuesday. He said the brain swelling was the most serious threat.


"These are critical hours."


Earlier Tuesday, doctors had said he was out of grave danger, alert and in good spirits but unable to speak.


"We thought Mr. Nixon was doing quite well," Plum said. But after he was moved to the private room, "it was apparent he'd taken a turn for the worse."


Strokes -- damage to part of the brain, caused by insufficient blood supply -- are the nation's third-leading cause of death. They strike about 500,000 people annually, killing one-third.


Brain swelling is common in stroke victims and is considered serious, Plum said.