Publication: Monitor Volume: 4 Issue: 54

Russia’s largest-circulation newspaper, the weekly Argumenty i fakty, claims in its latest issue that the real reason for President Boris Yeltsin’s confinement to bed is that he is suffering from one of his periodic bouts of depression. According to Yeltsin’s press secretary, the president is recovering from laryngitis brought on by a severe cold. The Kremlin explained the decision to cancel all his engagements by saying this was a necessary precaution in view of the danger of a secondary infection for someone who, like Yeltsin, has undergone major heart surgery. According to Argumenty i fakty, however, the diagnosis of depression is borne out by the fact that the president’s cardiologist, Renat Akchurin, has not even been consulted over the president’s present "cold." (Argumenty i fakty, March 18)

Yeltsin is known to suffer periodic bouts of depression. When his former security guard, General Aleksandr Korzhakov, alleged in his memoirs last year that Yeltsin had tried to kill himself during one such episode, the Kremlin deplored what it saw as Korzhakov’s betrayal of the president’s confidence. But it made no attempt to deny the claim. "When he is depressed," Argumenty i fakty claims, "Boris Nikolaevich wakes up very early — at about five o’clock in the morning — and may spend ages sitting in an armchair or pacing about his room. As a rule, this mood doesn’t last more than a week. Soon the overwhelming desire to work returns, bringing with it euphoria and elation." (Argumenty i fakty, March 18)

In an interview published this week, Yeltsin’s favorite cabinet minister, Boris Nemtsov, scoffed at those who write Yeltsin off as past his prime. "You may tell anyone who thinks [Yeltsin] is incompetent that he will be coming down with a cold at their funerals," Nemtsov said. (Kommersant-daily, March 17)

[The Monitor continues its survey of Ukraine’s political parties and movements in the runup to the parliamentary elections. See the series of profiles in The Monitor, November 6, 17, and 20; December 5, 12, and 24, 1997; January 8, February 4, 10, 19, and 20, and March 18, 1998]

Ukraine’s Political Landscape: The Democratic Party and N.E.P. Bloc.