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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

DeBakey: Yeltsin's Bypass Next Week

President Boris Yeltsin may undergo coronary bypass surgery as early as next week, American heart specialist Michael DeBakey said Tuesday.

Speaking from his office in Houston, Texas, DeBakey, who is consulting with Kremlin doctors on preparations for the multiple bypass, told Agence France Presse he was planning to go to Moscow "soon" to oversee the operation.

"It could be next week," he said.

DeBakey's assessment was strengthened by Yury Korgonyuk, analyst at INDEM, a Moscow-based think tank, who said Tuesday that according to information at his disposal, a team of doctors would perform the triple or quadruple bypass operation between Nov. 5 and Nov. 11.

These comments came amid growing signs that the Kremlin was accelerating the pace of preparations for the surgery, which had been tentatively scheduled for mid to late November.

On Monday, presidential spokesman Sergei Yastrzhembsky announced that all of Yeltsin's appointments for the week would be canceled to allow the president to devote his time to getting ready for the operation.

The Kremlin on Tuesday released a bulletin on the president's health saying Yeltsin needed complete rest to enable his doctors to bring him "to the highest possible peak of his physical and psychological powers."

With Yeltsin out of the spotlight indefinitely, his chief of staff, Anatoly Chubais, has moved to extend his hold on the reins of government. On Tuesday he told reporters the Kremlin needed more power to deal with potentially rebellious regions.

Chubais said he had spoken to Yeltsin on Tuesday morning by telephone, the only Kremlin official with such access to the head of state. The president, said Chubais, has declared his intention to meet with leaders of Russia's 89 regions because some of them were ignoring the country's constitution.

"The current situation in this Tuesday that he had no doubt Yeltsin will successfully serve out his second four-year term once the operation is complete.

In a front-page article headlined "The president will be back," Mironov told Komsomolskaya Pravda that Yeltsin's low blood count was improving and his reportedly ravaged liver was in very good shape.

"Everything is going according to schedule," Mironov said.

Mironov said the president "receives analytical reports every day and works on documents from 1 1/2 to two hours a day."

Yeltsin, who suffered two heart attacks last year, and possibly a third this June, appeared on television Sept. 5 to say he needed an operation on his heart. At the time the president said the surgery would be performed later that month, but it has since been delayed, with doctors saying Yeltsin needed time to prepare.

In Yeltsin's prolonged absence, top Kremlin officials have taken to polishing their images in highly publicized television appearances.

Prime Minister Victor Chernomyrdin, who will temporarily take over executive command if and when Yeltsin does have surgery, appeared as the "Hero of the Day" on Monday's NTV Independent Television news show.

In a rare glimpse into his personal life, Chernomyrdin played the accordion, showed off his physical prowess on water skis, dandled his grandson on his knee and confessed to a weakness for beautiful women. He also painted himself as a plain Russian muzhik by admitting he occasionally likes a shot of vodka, but "never to excess," in contrast to widely circulated rumors that Yeltsin is overly fond of the bottle.

Chubais has also come out of the shadows. His Tuesday message mirrored similar remarks made on a trip to St. Petersburg last weekend, in which he said that the creation of the emergency tax collection commission, of which he is the deputy, was "a part of creating a real Russian authority, not just in name but in deed."

"This will not be our last step to consolidate power, because the consolidation of power -- instead of constant mutual intrigues, instead of public discussions, instead of endless argument -- is exactly what the country needs," Chubais said.

He also defended a recently formed consultative council, on which he stands in for the president, explaining that this committee represented a new approach to concentrating the decision making process within a small, effective political circle.

INDEM's Korgonyuk said Yeltsin's apparent removal from the decision-making process puts Chubais in a stronger position to operate under Yeltsin's name in a way he sees most fit.

However, whatever these actions may be, they will probably be hidden from the public eye for weeks or months to come, Korgonyuk said.

"If anything, Yeltsin's absence will be used by the opposition," he said. "Perhaps [Alexander] Korzhakov will finally open one of his compromising suitcases."