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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Duma Foes Assail 'Improved' Yeltsin

Kremlin doctors said Tuesday that President Boris Yeltsin's condition "has improved considerably," but that did not stop his opponents in the State Duma from setting in train a bid to force him out of office on grounds of ill health.

"The president's condition has improved considerably and his physical activity has increased," the Kremlin press service said in a statement after doctors had examined Yeltsin on Tuesday evening.

Yeltsin, 65, has spent the last seven days at Moscow's Central Clinical Hospital, where physicians are treating him for double pneumonia.

"There is only sporadic wheeziness in his lungs," the statement continued, adding that Yeltsin spent two hours Tuesday working with documents and, in his first working meeting since being hospitalized, met for 40 minutes with his chief of staff Anatoly Chubais.

But in a move that will turn up the heat on the ailing president, the State Duma on Tuesday began considering a resolution forcing Yeltsin to step down.

The proposal was almost immediately bogged down in legal complications, however. It appeared unlikely to reach a vote before the end of the week.

In a draft resolution submitted to the Duma's presidium, the Communist chairman of the house's Security Committee, Viktor Ilyukhin, proposed the early termination of Yeltsin's powers, and the calling of new presidential elections. The draft also said Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin should stand in for Yeltsin, in accordance with the constitution, until a new head of state is elected.

Yeltsin has been out of action for most of the last six months with heart trouble. He returned to the Kremlin at the end of last month, but hopes that he would be able to return to full-time work were dashed when he was admitted to hospital last Wednesday with pneumonia.

Nevertheless, the prospect of Ilyukhin's resolution gaining legal force are slim, as the constitution has no mechanism for dismissing the head of state on grounds of ill health.

The constitution is "very foggy," on questions of dismissing the president, Communist speaker of the Duma, Gennady Seleznyov, told NTV Independent television after the presidium meeting Tuesday.

Before the presidium considers whether to include the resolution in the agenda for a full session of the Duma, the draft will be submitted for vetting by legal experts and circulated to the leaders of house committees and factions, Seleznyov said."I think that all of that will take no less than a week," the speaker said, adding that Wednesday's plenary session of the Duma is unlikely to produce any sensations.

The resolution was dismissed as "groundless" by spokesmen for the presidential administration.

"Any sober-minded person realizes that such a resolution does not and cannot have any legal consequences," Alexander Kotenkov, the president's official representative in the Duma was quoted as saying by Interfax. If the Duma decides to discuss the resolution, it will only, "aggravate the political situation in the country," he said.

Meanwhile, the presidential press service said in its statement that the draft resolution was nothing more than a trial balloon to test public opinion during Yeltsin's illness. The agitation will soon die down once the president resumes work, the statement added.

The statement also said that Yeltsin saw no reason to summon Chernomyrdin back from his vacation and that he had no plans to cancel his annual address to parliament, scheduled for February.

All previous attempts by the legislature to oust Yeltsin have run out of steam. Article 92 of the Russian constitution states that the President's powers can be terminated before the end of his term in the event of "resignation, persistent ability to exercise his powers or suspension from his post." However the constitution is unclear whether the Duma is empowered to set in train this procedure, and if so by what means.

Last quote should be "inability"?

ay morning, where he looked languid and somewhat detached.

Neither was Yeltsin a picture of health during last weekend's meeting with his close friend German Chancellor Helmut Kohl, who returned to Berlin with the observation that Yeltsin would be advised to take things easy for a while.

Out of the public limelight for most of his second term as president, Yeltsin has made a decided effort to give an energetic and purposeful image since returning to his office Dec. 23.

Although doctors have advised Yeltsin not to overexert himself in the first few months behind his desk, he has already received two foreign dignitaries and chaired a number of Cabinet hearings on matters of the economy and social welfare.

More is on the slate, as a Moscow summit of the former Soviet republics is scheduled Jan. 17. Yeltsin was expected to travel to The Hague for a Feb. 3 to 4 meeting of the European Union.

Meanwhile, the prime minister's press service said Wednesday evening that Viktor Chernomyrdin will take off for a planned vacation Thursday.

He will not travel far. Chernomyrdin will stay until mid-January at an unspecified Moscow-area resort, Interfax reported.

While the Kremlin has been uncharacteristically candid about the president's health since Yeltsin leveled with the nation on Sept. 5 that his heart needed repair, news that the president has pneumonia is bound to bring back images of his enfeebled condition after last summer's presidential election.

Shortly before the July 3 runoff, Yeltsin canceled several campaign trips and television appearances because, as the Kremlin reported, he had a hoarse voice.

In September, Akchurin -- who was being pressured into performing an early surgery -- admitted that Yeltsin had in fact suffered a heart attack, his third in 12 months.

On Monday, DeBakey said the president's recovery was proceeding "right on schedule."

"Based on the reports I'm getting, it would appear that his cardiac function has been virtually restored to normal," Reuters quoted DeBakey as saying.

He cautioned, however, that Yeltsin's condition was "transient and self-limited."

Independent doctors observing Yeltsin's progress said patients recovering from similar heart operations have weakened immune systems and are more susceptible to catching serious colds or the flu.

The Kremlin has steadfastly denied Yeltsin's sickness was caused by a heavy work load.