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Russia: Yeltsin Gives First Interview, Says He's In Fighting Mood

Moscow, 20 November 1996 (RFE/RL) - Russian President Boris Yeltsin, in his first interview since a heart operation two weeks ago, today told the state RIA news agency that he is in fighting mood. He said he plans to return to work after a further recovery period at the Barvikha sanatorium outside Moscow.

RIA said the interview was filmed while Yeltsin and members of his family were walking on the grounds of the Kremlin's Central Clinical Hospital in Moscow.

Yeltsin was shown walking stiffly, but smiling on the hospital grounds with his wife, one of his daughters and his granddaughter. He wore a fur hat and a long black coat. He said he felt well compared to the first days after the operation.

Yeltsin thanked the team of surgeons who had conducted the quintuple bypass surgery on November 5. He said his heart pains had abated. RIA quoted him as saying "I do not feel my heart, it is quite different to before the operation."

Earlier today doctors removed Yeltsin's post-operation stitches. Chief Kremlin doctor Sergei Mironov told Itar-Tass Yeltsin is recuperating well and could be moved from the hospital to Barvikha tomorrow or Friday.

The 65-year-old Kremlin leader held his first full working meeting with Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin yesterday. Yeltsin told Chernomyrdin he is going to demand an account from every top official of his actions during his absence from the Kremlin.