Boris Yeltsin at Work in Kremlin
Feb. 10, 1999
MOSCOW (AP) _ A restless Boris Yeltsin went to the Kremlin today to meet with his prime minister in a flurry of activity apparently intended to show that Russia's president is still healthy and in control of the government.
Yeltsin and Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov discussed the president's visit to Jordan for King Hussein's funeral on Monday, a trip he made against doctors' advice.
``I summoned my doctors and asked who was right _ and they bowed their heads,'' Yeltsin said at the start of the meeting, according to the ITAR-Tass news agency.
Officials had said that Primakov would go to Jordan to attend the funeral, but Yeltsin quickly decided to go. ``A lot of people opposed my trip, but I decided to go myself,'' he told Primakov.
The trip was abruptly cut short, triggering a new wave of speculation about Yeltsin's health. Jordanian officials reported that the president had received medical aid before his sudden departure from Amman late Monday.
Both presidential spokesman Dmitry Yakushkin and chief Kremlin doctor Sergei Mironov denied the reports, and insisted the president's health was normal.
Yeltsin acknowledged today that it was ``physically difficult'' for him to spend about nine hours on the plane, but said the trip was worth it, allowing him to meet global leaders.
``I met many of them, and we not only shook hands but tried to jointly resolve some acute issues,'' Yeltsin said.
He specifically thanked Jordan's new king, Abdullah, for meeting him even though no rendezvous had been planned.
Primakov praised Yeltsin's trip as ``extremely important,'' and said it was appreciated by other leaders.
``It has been very highly appraised in the Arab world and shows that the Russian president is active and strong,'' Primakov said, according to the Interfax news agency.
The Jordanian visit was Yeltsin's first trip abroad since he cut short a visit to Central Asia in October because he fell sick. He was hospitalized last month with an ulcer.
Russian media have said Yeltsin made the trip to show that he is in control despite months of inaction. Plagued by a steady string of illnesses, the president has turned over most day-to-day control of government affairs to Primakov.
But Yeltsin has a record of enviously guarding his power and quickly dismissing officials he perceives as being too ambitious.