President Boris Yeltsin’s press secretary has angrily denied a report carried by the Financial Times on September 23 that Yeltsin has suffered a stroke and is unable to work more than 15 minutes a day. (Interfax, September 23) Quoting Kremlin insiders, the Financial Times said that Yeltsin has not signed a single document since suffering a third heart attack in late June and that all decrees and orders purportedly authorized by the Russian leader are in fact being signed by Anatoly Chubais, his chief-of-staff, "using a rubber stamp of the president’s signature." (Financial Times, September 23) The same rumor, reportedly spread by sources in the Security Council, had already been denied by the Kremlin when it first surfaced a couple of weeks ago.
The 65-year-old leader is now one day away from a decision by his doctors on possible heart surgery. But the surgeon tipped to perform the operation, Renat Akchurin, said in a weekend television interview that Yeltsin’s other health problems (generally believed to be liver problems caused by alcohol consumption) could lead to a postponement of the operation for another six to eight weeks, or even to cancellation of the surgery. According to Akchurin, patients with complications generally have an 85 to 90 percent chance of surviving heart surgery of the kind being considered for Yeltsin. (Reuters, September 23)
Moscow Approaching Acceptance of NATO Enlargement?