Get the latest updates as we post them — right on your browser

. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Kremlin Rulers Set Up at Elite Hospital

It almost seems as if Russia's ruling clan has abandoned the ancient Kremlin where it has ruled for centuries and moved - to the Central Clinical Hospital, where President Boris Yeltsin checked in with a bleeding ulcer Feb. 27.

With the illnesses of Yeltsin and several other top figures, plus the steady comings and goings of more healthy officials who need to see the boss, the hospital has become almost the seat of government.

Yeltsin was joined March 8 by his chief of staff Nikolai Bordyuzha, who reportedly suffered a heart attack. In addition, Kommersant reported Tuesday that Pavel Borodin, head of the Kremlin's household-affairs directorate, also checked in this week, and Interfax said Kyrgyz Prime Minister Zhumabek Ibraimov was rushed there over the weekend.

After Prosecutor General Yury Skuratov suddenly handed in his resignation on Feb. 1, his office said that he had checked in to Central Clinical, though the hospital could not confirm that.

Yeltsin began calling important political figures to the hospital for meetings, a trend that culminated Monday in a televised meeting with Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov.

Being hospitalized has not stopped Yeltsin from setting the agenda in Moscow and feeding the rumor mill. Lately he's been busy sending threatening signals to and publicly chastising Primakov.

His meetings last week with Grigory Yavlinsky, leader of the liberal Yabloko faction in the State Duma, and Yegor Stroyev, the mildly leftist chairman of parliament's upper house were seen as hints to Primakov he - or at the very least his deputies - could be replaced.

Yeltsin used Monday's meeting with Primakov to scold him for letting the media get him too worked up.

The Central Clinical Hospital, fully equipped for official meetings, may also be useful as a place to hide, as being in the hospital excuses officials from making public statement. Politicians in controversial situations, like Skuratov - who made sweeping corruption allegations before submitting his resignation - can duck out of the firing line for a while.

Kommersant's report that Borodin had joined Yeltsin and Bordyuzha in the hospital opens the way for more speculation about Kremlin intrigue. Perhaps Borodin did not want to miss any conversations Bordyuzha and Yeltsin were having in the hospital, and decided he had better join them.

The hospital, on Rublyovskoye Shosse in northwest Moscow, was originally built for Communist nomenklatura. Today it serves employees of all the federal structures - including the Kremlin, the White House, the ministries, the Duma and the Federation Council, as well as private clients. There is a separate building for Yeltsin and other top officials.

According to Kommersant's report, the floor that the president occupies includes an office, a room in which to receive guests, a bedroom, a dining room, rooms for family members, a home movie theater and a billiard room.

The paper said that two years ago Borodin supervised renovations that left the hospital's presidential wing looking like Yeltsin's Kremlin office. After all, by Kommersant's reckoning, he has spent 161 days there during his presidency.

Needless to say, patients who are out of the presidential circle live in slightly more modest conditions. But even for regular patients, the Central Clinical Hospital offers much better service than most Moscow hospitals.

"What's really good there is that they have all kinds of diagnostic equipment," said Alexander, a White House employee who recently recovered from a broken leg at Central Clinical. He added that unlike other Russian hospitals, in Central Clinical the food isn't bad, the rooms aren't crowded and it is easy to call out. The wooded location is also a plus for patients who can walk around.

The hospital is heavily guarded, and visitors other than relatives can enter only with passes and at certain times.

Alexander said he didn't see any celebrities there, but people visiting him told him they saw a helicopter arrive on the hospital's landing platform. From the helicopter emerged Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov, apparently there to pay someone a visit.