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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Yeltsin Irked By Health Speculation




Russian President Boris Yeltsin is tired of speculation about his health and hurt that erstwhile allies have publicly questioned his ability to run the country, an aide said Friday.


Presidential spokesman Dmitry Yakushkin insisted the president's health was "normal for a man of his age," adding that all traces of his two-week cold had now disappeared.


"It seems everyone is discussing the president's health these days," Yakushkin said. "Clearly this hurts him, in particular when it comes from politicians with whom he has worked and has friendly relations."


He added that Yeltsin had no intention of bowing out before the next presidential elections, slated for mid-2000.


Last week, presidential hopeful Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov, hitherto a close ally to the president, hinted that Yeltsin should step down from his duties if his health continues to worsen.


On a recent official visit to Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, Yeltsin appeared disorientated and at one point missed his footing. The trip was cut short by a day.


But defying rumors he was too ill to run the country, Yeltsin turned up at work at the Kremlin on Friday, holding talks with Federation Council Speaker Yegor Stroyev, Prosecutor General Yury Skuratov and Minister for Commonwealth of Independent States Affairs Boris Pastukhov.


Television footage of the meetings, which was broadcast on Russian television, showed Yeltsin looking pale and his face swollen.


He told Stroyev that Russia was emerging from its economic crisis.


"The situation is difficult, but we are starting to crawl out a bit,'' Interfax quoted him as saying.


Yeltsin's visit to Austria will go ahead next week as planned, Yakushkin said. The trip has been reduced to a single day, but Yakushkin insisted this was ample time for the president to meet officials.


All the same, further visits abroad are not on the presidential agenda for the near future, Yakushkin said. Instead, Yeltsin will be hosting a number of foreign dignitaries in Moscow in November.