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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Premier's Vacation Prompts Rumors

Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin left Moscow on Saturday for a two-week holiday in Sochi, his spokesman reported.

Viktor Konnov told Interfax that the prime minister just wanted to rest before a strenuous working period, and dismissed rumors that Chernomyrdin was planning to resign.

But the suddenness of Chernomyrdin's departure -- the holiday had not been previously announced -- fueled speculation that the prime minister was at the center of political intrigue.

Interfax news agency linked the holiday to President Boris Yeltsin's possible decision to run for a second term. Yeltsin is expected to announce by Feb. 15 whether or not he will run.

Chernomyrdin has often been mentioned as an alternative to Yeltsin. While the prime minister has repeatedly said that he would not run against Yeltsin, a St. Petersburg group is gathering signatures to get his name on the ballot.

This is not the first time a vacation by Chernomyrdin has been hailed as a prelude to his leaving office. In October 1994, he was on holiday during a currency crisis, when he canceled plans to meet Britain's Queen Elizabeth and remained in Sochi, prompting reports that he was about to step down for health reasons.