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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

'Yeltsin's Heart' Program Will Be Shown on NTV




Just as President Boris Yeltsin pulled out of a state visit to Vienna due to ill health, the NTV television station announced that next month it will air an hourlong program dedicated to the second anniversary of his quintuple bypass operation.


NTV denied the scheduling of the program was related to the president's worsening health, but it comes at a time of mounting speculation f much of it led by NTV's premier Sunday political report, "Itogi" f that Yeltsin is now too ill to serve out his term.


The report, called "Yeltsin's Heart," will feature interviews with members of the president's family, and also with former Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin, former Kremlin spokesman Sergei Yastrzhembsky and head surgeon Renat Akchurin, a spokesman for NTV said Monday.


It is scheduled to be broadcast Nov. 5, two years to the day after Yeltsin's seven-hour heart bypass operation.


"We will not be disclosing any secrets," the NTV spokesman said. "It is simply a collection of opinions of people close to the president, talking about the operation and how it has affected his work."


Even if NTV does have an ax to grind, political analysts said it was unlikely a program revisiting an operation that took place two years ago would much influence public opinion.


"I think it is already clear in most people's minds that the president is extremely ill," said Alexei Tetkov at the Moscow Carnegie Center. "But there is unlikely to be any political intrigue in the program. It is just an opportunity for NTV to boost their viewing figures. Because, let's face it, everyone will be glued to their screen on Nov. 5."


Yeltsin won re-election even after illness felled him in the homestretch of the 1996 presidential election and he disappeared from public view. On Sept. 5, just weeks after being re-elected, Yeltsin went on television to tell the nation that he needed heart surgery.


With the advice of some of the world's top cardiologists, Kremlin doctors successfully performed the quintuple bypass. Yeltsin was said to be in working order for another decade, providing he took proper care of himself.


Less than two years later, however, the president has cited bouts of flu, bronchitis and general weariness in cutting short or canceling state visits abroad. Some media have speculated that he is suffering renewed heart trouble.