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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Yeltsin Better But Too Sick to Work




Despite weekend assurances that he would be back in the Kremlin, President Boris Yeltsin, who is suffering from a throat infection, was still at his suburban residence Monday and partly confined to bed.


Visitors said, however, that Yeltsin, who is being treated with a course of antibiotics, is looking well and his condition improving.


The president's nose and throat were still inflamed, and he was still hoarse, the presidential press service said in a statement citing Yeltsin's doctor, Sergei Mironov. Doctors prescribed what the statement described as "semi-bedrest."


But after meeting the president Monday, presidential adviser Sergei Shakhrai said he was looking better.


"I think that Boris Yeltsin is recovering," Shakhrai, the president's representative on the Constitutional Court, was quoted as saying by Interfax. "The president does not look like a sick man."


There was no word from the Kremlin about whether Yeltsin would keep to his schedule for this week, which includes a Commonwealth of Independent States, or CIS, summit on Thursday.


Another visitor, opera singer Galina Vishnyevskaya, said Yeltsin looked fine Sunday when she and her husband, cellist Mstislav Rostropovich, lunched with him at the president's residence at Gorky-9 outside Moscow.


"Yeltsin looks very well. He coughs a little, which is not surprising with the spring's weather," Vishnyevskaya was quoted as saying by Interfax. The couple are longtime friends of Yeltsin's.


"We and Galya left absolutely reassured. When we saw him cheerful and fit, our joy was beyond limits," Rostropovich was quoted as saying by Itar-Tass.


Rostropovich said Yeltsin told them he wanted to return to work on Monday, but that Rostropovich advised him not to.


"Galya and I asked him to give his word to us, as friends, that he would continue his treatment," Rostropovich said. Yeltsin's daughter and advisor, Tatyana Dyachenko, told him by phone Monday that Yeltsin was honoring the request, he said.


Over the weekend officials were quoted as saying that Yeltsin would return to work on Monday, and insisted earlier Monday that the president would spend the day working on official documents at Gorky-9.


Yeltsin is a headstrong patient who sometimes requires persuasion to follow doctor's advice. In December, spokesman Sergei Yastrzhembsky had to retract Yeltsin's statement that he was returning to work a few days early after catching a chest cold.


Yeltsin was not however shown on television on Monday, the Kremlin's usual way of demonstrating that he is not seriously ill. The presidential press service said that first lady Naina Yeltsin was also sick, suffering from a severe cold and high temperature.


Although financial markets have taken the news of Yeltsin's latest illness calmly, recurring health troubles keep alive doubts about Russia's political stability and whether Yeltsin will seek another term in 2000.


There is no clear successor to Yeltsin, who is 67 and had quintuple bypass surgery in November 1996 followed by double pneumonia. That health crisis kept him off the political stage for eight months. Since then, he has appeared reinvigorated by the heart surgery.


After December's bout with a chest infection, he came roaring back, criticizing his government and firing three ministers.


Doctors have said his current infection should be easily treatable with antibiotics.


Yeltsin on Tuesday criticized the news media for paying too much attention to his health, saying the question was closed after a checkup gave him a clean bill of health. He jokingly challenging journalists to compete with him at swimming, tennis or running.


Sections of the Russian media have suggested that Yeltsin has come down with a diplomatic illness in an attempt to get Thursday's CIS summit postponed. He faces harsh criticism from fellow CIS leaders at the summit. Azerbaijani President Heidar Aliyev has already said he will not attend as a protest against Russia's alleged supply of arms to Armenia.


... First Deputy Prime Minister Anatoly Chubais said Sunday that he accepts his nomination to the board of directors of state-owned electricity monopoly, United Energy Systems, but added that if he is voted onto the board it does not mean he will be leaving the government.


The nomination is part of the government's battle against non-payments between enterprises and government, Chubais told RTR public television station.


Chubais, who has been given the thankless task of dealing with the problem, said UES alone accounts for one-fifth of the 760 billion rubles ($125.3 billion) in non-payments and remains crucial to solving the problem. The board of directors will vote on the nomination at a meeting April 4.