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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Yeltsin Illness Foils Impeachment Bid

Doctors treating President Boris Yeltsin for a heart condition Wednesday said he would be released from hospital after the weekend, but in the meantime the sudden illness has had an unexpected side effect, prompting hardline legislators in the State Duma to pull out of an impeachment attempt.


"The patient had a quiet night," read a statement released to the press by the president's press office Wednesday. "This morning B.N. Yeltsin's blood pressure is normal and stable. His electrocardiogram is also normal."


Presidential officials repeated the assurances later in the day, reportedly to scotch rumors circulating on world financial markets Wednesday that the president's health had deteriorated serioulsy, according to Reuters.


Yeltsin's chief of staff, Sergei Filatov, said doctors had decided to release the 64-year-old president from their care next Monday, Interfax reported.


Yeltsin had been rushed to the Central Clinical Hospital on Tuesday with severe chest pains. His condition, given as acute ischemia, is responding to treatment, according to his press spokesman, and the president is up and ready for work.


But if the president's illness has thrown further doubts over his long-term political future, it helped him Wednesday.


In a surprise move, members of Vladimir Zhirinovsky's Liberal Democratic Party and one Communist deputy withdrew from the list of 165 State Duma deputies demanding Yeltsin's impeachment. There are now fewer than 150 signatures on the list, which is not enough to start impeachment proceedings.


A statement circulated by the press service of Zhirinovsky's party said the faction could not proceed with the drive to oust Yeltsin while he was sick.


"We wish the president a speedy recovery," the statement said.


Zhirinovsky later told re ing it.


Yeltsin's press service was at pains to paint a picture of a president in complete control Wednesday. "The president is in a mood to work," its statement said.


Kremlin spokesman Sergei Medvedev added that the president had the nuclear button with him in the hospital and that Yeltsin was dealing with several important documents Wednesday, including a special bill giving advantage in university entrance exams to graduates of schools destroyed by the earthquake in Sakhalin in the Far East.


He also sent congratulations to metallurgy workers on the occasion of Metallurgists' Day.


Yeltsin spoke with Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin on the telephone for 20 minutes Wednesday morning, Interfax reported. Chernomyrdin later told journalists that the president was in a good mood and continued to work.


"Like anybody else, the president has the right to be ill," he said.


But this latest bout of executive ill-health is unlikely to boost Yeltsin's already dismal popularity ratings, which place him well behind such declared presidential contenders as Grigory Yavlinsky and Zhirinovsky, or to improve his chances of re-election.


"No one wants a sick president," said Sergei Markov, an associate at the Moscow center of the Carnegie Endowment for Peace. "Especially with elections coming up. Everybody will remember this illness then."


Russia is facing parliamentary polls in December, and a presidential ballot is scheduled for June 1996. Although Yeltsin has been coy about his intentions in the presidential race, most analysts expect him to run.


"His people have already established a campaign committee," said Markov. "And they will insist that he run. Without him, aides like [Alexander] Korzhakov and [Sergei] Filatov have no political future. And if the wrong candidate gets in, they might not have any future at all."


But while Yeltsin's star seems to be in sharp decline, the prime minister's is on the rise. With his decisive handling of the Budyonnovsk hostage crisis, Chernomyrdin has changed from a colorless bureaucrat into a national hero, leading many analysts to point to him as the only logical successor to Yeltsin.


"Chernomyrdin is consciously creating his image," said Pavel Kandel, an analyst at the Institute of Europe. "And he is the only one to whom Yeltsin can hand over power without fears for his own safety."


While Yeltsin's illness is hardly a plus, said Kandel, it does provide the president with a handy excuse to withdraw from the race with dignity. "Even before this illness, he had almost no chance of winning," said Kandel.