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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Lost Yeltsin Asks: 'Is That The End?'

In an elaborate Kremlin ceremony packed with foreign dignitaries and television crews, Boris Yeltsin paused dramatically in his speech - for 15 seconds.

He turned his notes over in his hands.

"Is that the end?" he mumbled.

Yeltsin, who checked out of the hospital Monday, teetered slightly, and Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko stood up and put his hand on his elbow to help him balance.

After an aide rushed over and whispered something, Yeltsin concluded: "I'm certain that our descendants will evaluate the merits of our actions."

It was the same line he had uttered 15 seconds earlier, but it was met with rousing applause nonetheless.

A reporter on NTV television, which showed the footage several times during the day, commented wryly: "At the microphone, Boris Yeltsin showed the significance [of the event] through his intonation. He even read the last sentence twice, like a chorus."

Yeltsin has a history of stumbling in speeches, and such incidents tend to trigger fresh speculation regarding his health and mental competence.

Despite his recent illness, Yeltsin left for China on Wednesday and is due to return Friday. Next month, he is scheduled to visit Bethlehem on Orthodox Christmas.