Russian president Boris Yeltsin returned to the Kremlin from a two-day holiday in Valdai on August 21. Yeltsin was said to be planning to resume work in the Kremlin and to meet with candidates for seven vacant posts in the Russian government. (Interfax, August 21) The fact that there have so far been no pictures of Yeltsin’s return will further fuel speculation about the state of his health. Doubt was also cast on claims that he had gone to Valdai to see whether it would make a suitable vacation resort by the news that he had already been there several times before. (BBC World Service, August 22)
A leading member of Yeltsin’s staff, Vyacheslav Nikonov, said in an interview on August 21 that the Russian president had withdrawn from public view not because he is sick but because he "does not want" to make any serious decision on Chechnya, which he sees it as a no-win situation. (BBC World Service, August 21) Earlier, journalist Pavel Felgengauer offered a similar explanation. (See Monitor, August 21) As an explanation for Yeltsin’s apparent inactivity, Nikonov’s is scarcely less alarming than Time magazine’s. According to Time, Yeltsin’s heart ischaemia flared up in June, provoked perhaps by "a drinking binge that may have affected his heart and the left side of his brain." (Time, August 26)
Korzhakov Threatens to Spill the Beans.