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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Novosibirsk Nettled by 'Death' Tale

Rumors of the death of President Boris Yeltsin, which caused brief havoc on the international stock markets last week, also stirred up the normally quiet Siberian city of Novosibirsk.

The newspaper Evening Novosibirsk published last Tuesday a small item in its gossip column stating the city was abuzz with rumors of Yeltsin's "sudden" death.

Nikolai Zaikov, the paper's editor in chief, said the information was not intended to be taken seriously.

"We didn't even put it in black frame, as we normally would have done with any official death announcement," he said in a telephone interview.

According to Zaikov, the information was published with the aim of preventing the rumor from spreading further.

"If we really thought that Yeltsin had died, we would not have put it in our gossip column," he said.

The publication, however innocent it might have been, caused a great deal of commotion in local government offices.

Both Vitaly Mukha, head of the local administration, and Igor Shmidt, the presidential representative in Novosibirsk, asked the local branch of the Federal Security Service, or FSB, to check the paper's sources.

"I can't understand why is there so much interest in some gossip," said Zaikov, who had a meeting with the FSB on Monday.

Yevgeny Zharich, head of the public relations department of the Novosibirsk FSB, confirmed that a written request came from the local administration asking FSB to conduct an inquiry.

The secretary of the presidential representative, meanwhile, said apparently all the rumors came from Western radio stations.

"Public reaction in Novosibirsk was close to nil as everybody saw Yeltsin on television that same evening and he was alive," she commented.

The presidential press office said Yeltsin is alive and feels well, and that there will be no official reaction to the report in Evening Novosibirsk due to the newspaper's absolute insignificance.