. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Doctors Keeping Yeltsin in Hospital

President Boris Yeltsin, who was hospitalized over the weekend, will spend at least another two days in the hospital for tests to prepare him for heart surgery, Kremlin aides said Monday.


Yeltsin, who had been preparing for heart bypass surgery by resting at the Rus hunting lodge outside Moscow, was admitted to Moscow's Central Clinical Hospital in western Moscow on Friday night.


Over the weekend, Kremlin aides described this as a routine check-up, but Monday's announcement of a prolonged stay in the hospital raises concerns that Yeltsin's health needs special treatment that is impossible at his hunting lodge.


The early word from Kremlin aides, reported Friday night by NTV Independent Television, was that Yeltsin's hospitalization was a routine checkup, and "not a situation created by any unforseen event." Yeltsin would be hospitalized through the weekend for examinations that "could only effectively be conducted on an in-patient," NTV said.


But Interfax reported Monday that Yeltsin was undergoing a comprehensive medical examination in relation to his upcoming surgery and would not be out of the hospital for at least another two days.


Yeltsin ended a year of self-appointed deadline.


Besides heart problems, Pavel Voshchanov, a former Kremlin press secretary, has said the president was simultaneously suffering from cirrhosis of the liver, kidney problems, rapidly progressing angina pectoris, a chronic infection of the middle ear, and a sleeping disorder caused by his weak heart.


The doctors' council is also expected to announce what cardiologist will lead the operation as well as the surgery's time and place.


The team of doctors will include two German physicians -- Axel Haverich and Thorsten Wahlers of the Clinic for Heart Surgery in Hanover, Germany -- offered to Yeltsin by Chancellor Helmut Kohl, an old friend of Yeltsin and his closest European ally.


The Kremlin said over the weekend that Yeltsin accepted the offer in a telephone conversation with Kohl last Friday.


Yeltsin's chief physician, Dr. Sergei Mironov, has said the team will also include America's pioneering cardiologist, Dr. Michael DeBakey of the Baylor University Medical Center in Houston, Texas.


From his hospital bed, Yeltsin spoke to U.S. President Bill Clinton, who wished his best to Yeltsin's health and expressed confidence in future "fruitful cooperation" between the two nations, the Kremlin press service said Monday. Sunday evening's conversation was the first between the two presidents since Clinton called Yeltsin in early July to congratulate him on victory in the presidential election runoff against Communist challenger Gennady Zyuganov.


Kremlin aides did not reveal who initiated Sunday's call, but said Yeltsin thanked Clinton "for the readiness of U.S. specialists to participate in post-operative medical consultations," Interfax reported.


The phrasing of the statement suggests Yeltsin is sticking by his initial decision to have surgery conducted by a Russian cardiologist, and foreign specialists will only provide advice.


The issue of foreign expertise in Yeltsin's treatment has gained a political edge ever since Yeltsin said there was no need for him to travel abroad for surgery since "our Russian" doctors were as qualified as Western cardiologists to operate on his heart.


Yeltsin is now apparently receiving Western advice but the Kremlin's chief physician Friday justified the decision to seek limited foreign help, arguing Yeltsin's health was more important than considerations of national pride.


"This is no time for patriotism," Mironov said in a press conference held Friday. "We can do a lot, but I think in this case we should invite leading foreign specialists."


Russian cardiological facilities lack experience in performing bypass operations, and even doctors who work in Russia's premier cardiological facility -- Moscow's Chazov Center, where Yeltsin is now under observation and is expected to have surgery -- did not sound convinced the president should have surgery there.


"It goes without saying that if it were for myself or a close relative, I'd do it in the West," a surgeon who works at the Chazov, but asked not to be identified, said in an interview with The Washington Post.


At present, the front candidate to lead the operation appears to be Russian cardiologist Dr. Rinat Akchurin, who performed a bypass on Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin in 1992.


Akchurin trained with DeBakey at Baylor University for two years and has been described as "very good" by the American doctor, The Associated Press reported.