MOSCOW (AP) _ Construction workers in Russia's wooded north have been building President Boris Yeltsin a lavish new summer home with taxpayers' money, a Russian newspaper said Wednesday.

Near a tranquil lake in the birch forests of Karelia, close to the Finnish border and 540 miles north of Moscow, some 160 Italian, Canadian and Russian construction workers are erecting a huge new ``dacha,'' or summer home.

Plans include a helicopter pad, sauna, elevator and tennis courts for one of Yeltsin's favorite pastimes, the popular daily Komsomolskaya Pravda said. The front-page article featured a photograph of the huge and nearly complete house.

A Yeltsin aide, Viktor Savchenko, confirmed the construction was federally funded, but denied it was being built exclusively for Yeltsin.

``If in the future one of the top leaders goes to visit Karelia, and he wants to stay in the building ... no one would stop him,'' Savchenko told the newspaper.

Yeltsin held a full schedule of meetings Wednesday at the Barvikha sanitarium outside Moscow, where he is recovering from a heart ailment.

He met with Central Bank Chairman Sergei Dubinin; Patriarch Alexy II, the head of the Russian Orthodox Church; top aide Viktor Ilyushin; and Ivan Korotchenya, chief of the Commonwealth of Independent States.

Korotchenya said Yeltsin ``is in good form and ready to plunge into state activity,'' the Interfax news agency reported.

Yeltsin, 64, was hospitalized on Oct. 26 with acute ischemia, a condition restricting blood flow to the heart. It was his second hospitalization this year.