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Chernomyrdin Reassures Russia Over Yeltsin's Health.


Moscow, July 1 (RFE/RL) -- Russian Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin said today that President Boris Yeltsin is suffering from a cold, but that otherwise he feels "normal."

Chernomyrdin told a news-conference in Moscow that Yeltsin "has a cold, accompanied by sore throat, but his voice improved today." He went on to say that "nothing unexpected, extravagant or unforeseen is taking place in Russia."

Itar-Tass quoted Chernomyrdin, a close Yeltsin ally, as saying he is sure "that Russians will make the right choice on Wednesday" and that economic reform will continue.

Yeltsin and Chernomyrdin had met earlier today in Yeltsin's country residence outside Moscow. Russian television carried footage of the meeting. According to Yeltsin's press-service it focused on the situation in Russia ahead of Wednesday's runoff and the outcome of the G-7 summit in Lyon.

Yeltsin, looking stiff and speaking clearly in a slight hoarse voice, today made a two-minute address on Russian television urging Russians to vote in the presidential runoff on Wednesday.

Yeltsin said that "each vote will be decisive". He urged voters not to stay at home, because failing to vote "is also a choice, but a choice against Russia."

The appearence, two days before his crucial runoff against his communist rival, Gennady Zyuganov, came amid doubts about Yeltsin's health.

Yeltsin had cancelled a series of meetings over the past days, including a summit today with the presidents of Ukraine and Moldova. Aides said Yeltsin had lost his voice after the strain of the first round of the presidential election last month.

Russian Television said the address had been recorded today. The Kremlin did not say where the recording was made.

Zyuganov told a news conference that Yeltsin's withdrawal from the public eye had been "very alarming" and said he wanted a medical review published on Yeltsin's health condition.
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