President Boris Yeltsin’s doctors have advised him against recording his usual weekly radio address tomorrow. (BBC, December 11) Yesterday, the Russian president was diagnosed as suffering from an "acute respiratory viral infection" and advised to stay in a sanitarium for 10-12 days lest his "cold" turn into influenza or pneumonia. Originally, aides said the president would probably be able both to record his routine radio address and to vote in Sunday’s elections to the Moscow City Duma. Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin will stand in for Yeltsin at a wreath-laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier marking tomorrow’s national holiday — Constitution Day. (RTR, December 10)
Financial markets reacted swiftly to Yeltsin’s hospitalization. Hard-currency and ruble markets were unaffected, but dollar-denominated debt fell and the stock market dropped by nearly 5 percent. (Reuter, December 10; Financial Times, December 11) Suspicion that Yeltsin might be suffering from more than a mere cold were heightened by the recollection that last year, when Yeltsin suffered a heart attack between the two rounds of the Russian presidential election, his aides originally said he had a cold. There was some speculation yesterday that Yeltsin might have suffered a succession of small strokes in recent months, but this was unconfirmed. (BBC, December 10) Today’s Washington Post, meanwhile, reports that Yeltsin is suffering not from a cold but from a resumption of his heart problems. That report too has not been confirmed officially.