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Russia: Yeltsin Has A 'Bad Cold' And Cancels Meetings

Moscow, 6 January 1997 (RFE/RL) -- Russian President Boris Yeltsin has a serious cold and has canceled all his engagements for the following days.

Yeltsin's spokesman Sergei Yastrzhembsky told reporters today at the Kremlin that Yeltsin has a "bad cold" and a high temperature. But he said the cold is "not linked" to the 65-year-old Yeltsin's recent heart operation.

Yastrzhembsky said a number of meetings planned for Yeltsin in the coming days have been postponed because of his sickness. Yastrzhembsky did not make it clear if Yeltsin is still in his Kremlin office.

Yastrzhembsky said Yeltsin had conducted two meetings today -- one on relations with NATO and one separately with Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin -- "despite a heavy cold and high temperature" of 37.5 centigrade this morning.

Russian media report that Yeltsin's doctors are meeting today to discuss his illness.

Yastrzhembsky, meanwhile, says preparations for the president's international schedule are proceeding as planned. They include a summit of the Commonwealth of Independent States scheduled for January 17 in Moscow, and a meeting with French President Jacques Chirac on February 2 at Yeltsin's country residence near Moscow. Yeltsin is also due to travel to The Hague on February 4 to meet the current European Union president, Dutch Prime Minister Wim Kok.

Yeltsin had a quintuple heart bypass operation on November 5 and returned to work at the end of last year.