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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

President Checks Into the Hospital




Boris Yeltsin was hospitalized Monday with what doctors suspect is pneumonia, the latest sickness to beset the often ailing 68-year-old president.


Yeltsin had fallen ill with what aides described as bronchitis last Thursday and was convalescing at his country residence outside Moscow. After examining the president at home Monday, his doctors decided to hospitalize him, suspecting pneumonia, the Kremlin said.


He was taken to the Central Clinical Hospital in Moscow for examination and treatment. Spokesman Dmitry Yakushkin told the Ekho Moskvy radio station that Yeltsin would continue working while in the hospital, maintaining a "partial workload.'' The president will be hospitalized for about a week, and still plans to meet with Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma on Dec. 6, Yakushkin said.


People have grown accustomed to the president's repeated illnesses and prolonged absences from public view, and the latest setback was not expected to have much impact. Even Yeltsin's opponents, who in the past have seized on his illnesses to renew calls for his ouster and question his fitness to govern, were silent after Monday's development.


Yeltsin has been hospitalized several times in the past three years, usually with respiratory infections, including twice for pneumonia in 1997 and 1998. The Kremlin tends to hospitalize the ailing president at the first sign of illness.


Yeltsin underwent quintuple bypass surgery in November 1996 and suffered a bleeding ulcer earlier this year.


The president was hospitalized briefly last month with the flu and a fever. He often falls ill with the onset of winter.


Prime Minister Vladimir Putin is running the government's daily business, including the war against Chechnya.


In Washington, White House spokesman Joe Lockhart said: "We have seen the reports that he has gone to the hospital. Obviously, we wish him well and a speedy recovery.''


He said U.S. President Bill Clinton had commented on how healthy Yeltsin looked when they met at a summit in Istanbul two weeks ago.


Even when he is healthy, Yeltsin spends most of his time in his country residence, rarely putting in a full week at his Kremlin office. Earlier Monday, Yeltsin summoned Chief of Staff Alexander Voloshin to his residence for discussions.


In television footage of the meeting, the two sat in chairs across a small table. The tape showed the president, dressed in a dark sweater, speaking emphatically to Voloshin, who nodded in agreement. The clip did not include Yeltsin's voice.


It was the first footage of Yeltsin shown to the public since he fell ill last week. The Kremlin, which released the footage, did not give details of Yeltsin's conversation with Voloshin.


While Yeltsin rested over the weekend, the information war on Sunday national television programs percolated along, with pro-Kremlin anchor Sergei Dorenko attacking Kremlin opponent Yury Luzhkov, the mayor of Moscow. In his show on ORT, Dorenko repeated earlier attacks linking Luzhkov to religious sects - the mayor's attorney once defended the Scientologists - and airing an interview with the sister of Paul Tatum, a U.S. businessman slain by unknown attackers in 1996. Tatum's family has accused Luzhkov of hindering the investigation, an accusation the mayor's office denies.


Both Dorenko and fellow Kremlin supporter Nikolai Svanidze, host of RTR's "Zerkalo" program, were back on the air in Bashkortostan, one week after the republic's parliament pre-empted them with movies at the behest of the president, Murtaza Rakhimov. Rakhimov backed off after a Saturday meeting with Putin and Press Minister Mikhail Lesin.


NTV, which has been increasingly anti-Kremlin, fired back at Yeltsin's inner circle, dubbed "the family," by portraying Voloshin as a wind-up toy scuttling between presidential daughter and image adviser Tatyana Dyachenko and other government officials. It also re-broadcast what purported to be a paid campaign advertisement on regional television in Chukotka by Roman Abramovich, the oil executive NTV says is a member of "the family."


Abramovich, not often seen in public, is running for a State Duma seat from the sparsely populated region in the Far East. In the TV segment, he is shown talking about his family, followed by an appearance on his behalf by Alexander Nevzorov, a freewheeling St. Petersburg journalists often associated with right-wing political causes.