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Russia: Chernomyrdin Says Yeltsin Will Not Resign Now

Moscow, 24 September 1996 (RFE/RL) -- After meeting ailing President Boris Yeltsin in the hospital today, Russian Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin said that there can be "no question of Yeltsin's resignation" for the time being.

Chernomyrdin said he spoke to Yeltsin for 40 minutes at Moscow's Central Clinic Hospital, where the Russian leader has been undergoing tests for the past 10 days. Chernomyrdin said the two discussed domestic political issues, especially the current energy crisis in Russia's Far East.

A team of leading cardiologists will announce tomorrow when and whether they will operate on the 65-five-year old Yeltsin. Top U.S. heart surgeon Michael DeBakey, who conducted the world's first successful heart bypass surgery, as well as other leading international doctors are evaluating Yeltsin's readiness for such an operation along with top Russian cardiologists.

Surgeon Renat Akchurin, who is expected to lead the operation if it takes place, told reporters today the operation would definitely occur. During the weekend, Akchurin said the procedure might have to be delayed for a time.

Communist Party leader Gennady Zyuganov and State Duma speaker Gennady Seleznyov, also a communist, have called on Yeltsin to step down if he cannot maintain his normal work schedule. Zyuganov accused Yeltsin of misleading the Russian public about his health during the country's recent presidential elections.

Leading Russian stocks fell by an average of 10 percent today, in light of the continued uncertainty over Yeltsin's future. The fall followed a five percent drop on Monday, as markets remained nervous.