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Russia: Yeltsin Must Transfer Power To Prime Minister, Says Duma Chairman

Moscow, 6 September 1996 (RFE/RL) -- President Boris Yeltsin must transfer power to Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin before Yeltsin undergoes heart surgery this month, the chairman of Russia's State Duma, Gennady Seleznyov, said today.

Seleznyov said the transfer of power should be carried out for the period of Yeltsin's surgery, and until the president has recovered completely, reports Interfax.

If Yeltsin does not agree to transfer power, the Duma will send an appeal to Russia's Constitutional Court, said Seleznyov.

The press office of the Constitutional Court told RFE/RL's Moscow correspondent that the court will not discuss the possible appeal of the Duma, because the court is on vacation until September 22.

There have been no reported reactions to Seleznyov's remarks from Yeltsin or Chernomyrdin.

The leader of Russia's Communist Party, Gennady Zyuganov, today called for a meeting of cabinet ministers and parliamentary leaders to discuss Yeltsin's health. Zyuganov said such a meeting "must draw up a policy to avoid any possible destabilization of the country."

Interfax also today says Yeltsin is expected to have a bypass procedure. A bypass usually involves channeling blood around damaged valves in the heart, using veins grafted from other parts of the body.

A bypass is relatively routine heart surgery, and is considered less complicated than valve repair or possible replacement. Some medical specialists have speculated Yeltsin might need the more complicated -- and risky -- valve procedure.