Rivals say Yeltsin should step down due to poor health
January 13, 1997
Web posted at: 12:30 p.m. EST (1730 GMT)
MOSCOW (CNN) -- As Russian President Boris Yeltsin recovers
from pneumonia, his opponents stepped up their calls for
him to resign for health reasons.
Yeltsin was hospitalized last week. "In the doctors' opinion,
the president is in a stable condition," presidential
spokesman Sergei Yastrzhembsky said on Monday. "His
temperature and other indicators are in the normal
Yastrzhembsky said he had no confirmation on reports that the
65-year-old president could leave the hospital Tuesday or
Wednesday. A top Kremlin doctor said late last week that
Yeltsin would probably stay in the hospital for two or three
more days, and then be released to a country residence for
about three weeks of convalescence.
Yeltsin had quintuple heart bypass operation on November 5,
and returned to work on December 23. Doctors said his current
ailment is not related to the heart problems.
Yeltsin's chief opponent, Communist leader Gennady Zyuganov,
continued his assault on the president's ability to carry out
the duties of his office on Monday. Yeltsin, he said, should
'Time to have a rest'
"We have said this for a long time," Zyuganov said. "I think
his close relatives, friends and close circle will say,
'Boris Nikolayevich, it is time to have a rest.'"
Yeltsin's other rival, Gen. Alexander Lebed, also called for
the president to resign.
Yeltsin defeated Zyuganov and Lebed in last summer's
elections, but Parliament member Sergei Kovalyov said that
Russians voted for Yeltsin out of fear the Communists could
return to power.
"And now that the Communist Zyuganov hasn't been elected," he
said, "people are scratching their heads thinking, 'My God,
whom did I vote for?'"
Newspapers have echoed concerns about Yeltsin's ability to
serve. Pravda, one of the country's largest newspapers, said
that Yeltsin's bout with pneumonia made it clear
that "he has no strength to do real work."
Political analyst Andre Kortunov said that such attitudes are
to be expected from Yeltsin's rivals, while those in the
government want to appear loyal.
But popular television commentator Yevgeny Kiselyov said that
focus on Yeltsin's health distracts attention from Russia's
"The slightest indication that something is wrong or
might be wrong with Yeltsin's health and in a matter of a few
seconds the press of the whole world is full of stories about
new rounds of political instability in this country,"
Still, some Russian citizens are growing weary of Yeltsin's
problems, and long for a president who would get on with the
work of guiding Russia out of its current round of economic
and social crises.
One man, for example, said he wished Yeltsin a speedy
recovery but thought he should resign and "be a great grandpa
playing with his grandchildren and taking care of his
Correspondent Betsy Aaron and Reuters contributed to this report.
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