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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Liberal Press Down On Ailing Yeltsin

Russia's liberal newspapers were uncharacteristically critical of the country's leadership and pessimistic about the health of the president Friday.

"The president and Russia are both sick -- but who is sicker?" read the headline of a commentary by the editor of Nezavisimaya Gazeta, Vitaly Tretyakov.

According to Tretyakov, the president offered nothing but political platitudes and promises of a better life to his compatriots after he returned to the Kremlin on Dec. 23, because neither Yeltsin nor his advisers know how to cure the Russia's ills.

"The country is even sicker than the president," wrote Tretyakov.

Comparing today's headless system, supposedly "tuned to function efficiently on its own," to that of the Brezhnev era, Tretyakov warned of possible collapse.

Izvestia's front-page headline expressed similar concern Friday: "The president is sick. The premier is on vacation. The country is on its own."

According to commentator Stepan Kiselyov, it became obvious that Yeltsin was not well during his meeting with Germany's Chancellor Helmut Kohl on Jan. 4. "The Russian president was obviously unwell. He was weak and pale, without the customary color on his cheeks."

In Saturday's edition, Kiselyov went further to report on the front page rumors circulating that Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin -- now on holiday -- may be fired, painting still more disarray at the top.

Moskovsky Komsomolets on Friday quoted pneumonia specialists as saying that Yeltsin's chances for a quick recovery without complications are low. However, they were reluctant to predict the worst -- his lungs filling with fluid. He is most likely to suffer pneumonia with complications due to his age and weakened immunity system, they said.

The opposition newspaper Pravda ran a short report based on official information about the president's health and quoted former secretary of the Security Council Alexander Lebed.

"The longer the regency," he said, "the more serious will be the consequences for which someone will have to answer."