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Russia: Foreign Doctors Will Not Attend Yeltsin Operation

Moscow, 1 November 1996 (RFE/RL) -- No foreign doctor will be allowed to attend President Boris Yeltsin's upcoming heart operation, says Russian presidential spokesman, Sergei Yastrzhembsky.

Yastrzhembsky told reporters at a briefing in Moscow that the date for Yeltsin's heart bypass operation may not be set on Monday, when the president's doctors are due to meet, reports the Itar-Tass news agency. But he said that the earlier timeframe for the preparation -- six to ten weeks -- remains valid.

Yastrzhembsky, however, made clear to reporters that they would still be told in advance the exact date of the operation.

U.S. heart surgeon Michael DeBakey, who is advising Russian doctors, said on Thursday that the team of surgeons would "review the various data" Monday and would consult Yeltsin on a date for the operation. The Kremlin spokesman said today that DeBakey would arrive in Moscow over the weekend.

Yastrzhembsky told reporters that Yeltsin had signed a decree giving Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin temporary authority to sign agreements with Russia's regions. Chernomyrdin will have full presidential powers during the operation itself.

The German news agency DPA quotes Yastrzhembsky as saying that "a formula will be found" to determine how long Chernomyrdin would assume presidential powers. He said the handover of powers would immediately be made public.

Yeltsin's chief of staff, Anatoly Chubais, said earlier that the president would probably cede his powers only "for hours, a day, (or) two days."

Yastrzhembsky said also that Yeltsin will possibly make another radio address before the operation.