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Kremlin: Yeltsin Can Finish Term

November 27, 1998

MOSCOW (AP) _ President Boris Yeltsin’s heart attacks combined with the pressures of his job have made it more difficult for him to battle common illnesses, his spokesman acknowledged today.

Yeltsin has been hospitalized since Sunday with pneumonia, the latest in a series of illnesses that have raised concerns about his ability to serve out his term.

``In 1996, the president was working through several heart attacks while carrying out a very active election campaign,″ presidential spokesman Dmitry Yakushkin said at a news conference.

The past ailments, combined with the ``emotional, physical and psychological pressure endured by the president are taking its toll″ on the president and make it harder for him to overcome routine illnesses, such as the flu, Yakushkin said.

In the past, the Kremlin insisted that the president had fully recovered from his heart problems that led to a quintuple bypass surgery in November 1996.

Doctors and Yeltsin aides previously made a point of saying that the frequent illnesses suffered by the 67-year old leader in the past two years were unrelated to his heart condition.

Doctors have acknowledged that Yeltsin had heart attacks before, but his aides had never previously confirmed it. The Russian media has reported that Yeltsin has suffered as many as five heart attacks.

Yakushkin said Yeltsin’s temperature was normal and his condition ``satisfactory″ on Friday. But he said doctors had told the president to stay in bed.

Yakushkin described Yeltsin as ``partly bedridden.″

``He spends some time in bed, but also moves around his room and works at the table.″ Yakushkin said the president’s activity has increased.

``He had several telephone conversations and considered several important documents,″ Yakushkin said.

Doctors banned Yeltsin from seeing visitors, fearing they may infect him with a virus going around the Russian capital, Yakushkin said.

The spokesman did not comment on when Yeltsin was expected to leave the hospital, saying only that the treatment for pneumonia usually takes at least eight to 10 days.

Both Yakushkin and Yeltsin’s first deputy chief of staff Oleg Sysuyev continued to insist that the president was capable of performing his duties until the end of his term.

``We trust the doctors whose job it is to take care of the president,″ Sysuyev said at a separate news conference restricted to Russian journalists. ``Doctors believe he can fulfill his duties until 2000.″

Sysuyev dismissed suggestions that early presidential elections should be held next fall at the same time as parliamentary elections, saying that would destabilize the nation. ``That would be a crime,″ Sysuyev was quoted as saying by Russian news agencies.

Yeltsin has rarely appeared in public in recent months, and has said little about the country’s economic crisis, the worst in the post-Soviet era.

Yeltsin continues to support Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov but recently urged his Cabinet to work faster to deal with the crisis, Yakushkin said in an interview in today’s Izvestia newspaper.

Yeltsin has urged the government to adhere to free-market principles and not allow too much state intervention, Yakushkin said.

``The president isn’t against an increased role for the state, but he wouldn’t approve of extensive intervention for the sake of intervention,″ the spokesman said.

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