Accessibility links

Russia: Yeltsin Rejects Call For Constitutional Changes

  • Stephanie Baker

Moscow, 12 February 1997 (RFE/RL) - Russian President Boris Yeltsin has rejected a call by Communist Party leader Gennady Zyuganov for changes to the Consitution. And Russian heart surgeon Renat Akchurin said today that Yeltsin is still weak after his bout of pneumonia and needs about two more weeks to recover.

Presidential spokesman Sergei Yasterzhembsky said today that Yeltsin does not believe there is any reason to change the constitution at this time. At a news conference earlier today, Zyuganov proposed that leaders of all branches of government meet to discuss changes to the Constituion.

Yasterzhembsky dismissed Zyuganov's allegations that Yeltsin would cancel his address to the Federation Council. He said Yeltsin's speech will take place early next month.

Yasterzhembsky also rejected Zyuganov's allegations that Yeltsin's health problems were preventing him from carrying out affairs of state. He said Yeltsin is scheduled to meet Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat next week and is preparing for his summit with U.S. President Bill Clinton, which will take place in Helsinki next month.

Dr. Akchurin, who performed the multiple heart bypass surgery on Yeltsin last November, told Itar-Tass news agency that Yeltsin needs at least 10 days to two weeks to recover from pneumonia. He said the pneumonia posed no risk to Yeltsin's heart and repeated earlier statements that there were no complications related to his heart surgery.

Akchurin said Yeltsin was still "somewhat weak" but that he was gradually recovering and taking more walks. He said pneumonia is a serious illness, and therefore the president should not rush his recovery.

Akchurin also criticized attempts by the State Duma to pass a resolution calling on Yeltsin to step down on grounds of ill health.

Yeltsin came down with pneumonia in early January, just two weeks after returning to the Kremlin following his recovery from heart surgery.

Presidential Spokesman Sergei Yasterzhembsky said yesterday that Yeltsin was making a slow recovery and was not expected to return to the Kremlin soon.