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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Ill Yeltsin Flies to Hussein's Funeral




Brushing aside the advice of his doctors, President Boris Yeltsin made a surprise one-day visit to Jordan on Monday for King Hussein's funeral f where, according to Jordanian officials, he received unspecified "urgent medical care" before flying back to Russia.


The Kremlin press service denied that Yeltsin, who is recovering from a bleeding ulcer and had been warned by his doctors not to make the journey, received emergency medical care while in Amman.


Yeltsin returned to Moscow on Monday evening, looking tired but walking without assistance. An ambulance was on standby at the Moscow airport but did not join his motorcade as it traveled to Barvikha, a government sanatorium where Yeltsin has been recuperating.


It was his first foreign trip since he cut short a visit to Central Asia in October because of illness. Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov said on ORT television from Jordan that Yeltsin was very active in Amman and "needed no medical help."


Yeltsin joined hundreds of world leaders and dignitaries in Amman for the funeral of Hussein, who died Sunday of cancer at the age of 63. Yeltsin spent only about 2 1/2 hours on the ground. As other leaders were filing past Hussein's coffin, Yeltsin left the ceremony, got into his car and was driven away.


Jordanian foreign ministry protocol officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the Russian leader was given some form of medical treatment but did not disclose its nature. Itar-Tass reported that Yeltsin said in the airport before departure for Moscow that he "did not complain about the state of his health."


The news agency said Yeltsin also met with U.S. President Bill Clinton, who said the Russian president "looked great." During his brief stay in Amman, Yeltsin also met with French President Jacques Chirac, Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat and Italian President Luigi Scalfaro, Russian news reports said.


Yeltsin, 68, who has been ill several times in recent months, was accompanied on the trip by his wife, Naina, Foreign Minister Ivanov and a number of aides. Arriving at the Amman airport, the Russian leader moved haltingly down the steps of the plane, his face puffy. But he was able to walk unassisted along the tarmac.


Yeltsin was greeted at the airport by Jordanian Prime Minister Fayez Tarawneh and Foreign Minister Abdul Illah Khatib.


Yeltsin made the decision Sunday evening to attend Hussein's funeral, even though the chief presidential doctor explicitly ruled out foreign travel when he was diagnosed as suffering from an ulcer last month. It was his first trip to the Middle East since March 1996, when he visited a Middle East peace summit in Egypt.


Yeltsin's trip appeared to be one of his recent efforts to remind people he is still able to carry out at least ceremonial duties, although his political role has shrunk with repeated health troubles and the Aug. 17 financial collapse. Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov, an Arab-speaking former foreign minister who knows many Middle East leaders personally, stayed home.


Yeltsin, still jealous of his prerogatives, has shown restlessness at the newly assertive posture of Primakov, rejecting a political agreement proposed by the prime minister that would have required Yeltsin to give up some of his constitutional authority. Primakov has also apparently launched a campaign against business tycoon Boris Berezovsky, a reputed Kremlin favorite, in a series of corruption raids on businesses linked to Berezovsky.


Speculation has been widespread in the news media that Yeltsin may fire Primakov or shake up the cabinet by firing top ministers such as Finance Minister Mikhail Zadornov or First Deputy Prime Minister Yury Maslyukov, a moderate Communist.


Maslyukov defended the Cabinet on Monday against what he said were attacks by liberal reformers like Yegor Gaidar and Boris Fyodorov, whom he lumped in with Berezovsky. "The radicals who ruled the


country for several years and led it to an economic collapse, have guaranteed themselves quite reliable reserve bases from which they attack the government," Maslyukov was quoted as saying by Interfax.