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Russia: Chernomyrdin Chairs Commission On Tax Collection

Moscow, 5 November 1996 (RFE/RL) -- Russian Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin, who was handed temporary presidential powers this morning as President Boris Yeltsin began undergoing heart surgery, this morning chaired a meeting of a commission aimed at enforcing tax discipline.

Russian news agencies say that Chernomyrdin did not comment on Yeltsin's operation or his new powers as he opened today's meeting.

The meeting came as the Kremlin press service said President Yeltsin signed a decree transferring all presidential authority temporarily to Chernomyrdin.

The press service said Yeltsin's heart bypass operation is expected to last six to eight hours. Yeltsin is expected to resume his powers shortly after surgery.

According to the Russian Constitution, Chernomyrdin would continue as acting president if the incumbent were to be incapacitated or die in office. New presidential elections would then have to be called within three months.

Chernomyrdin underwent heart bypass operation several years ago, performed by the same Russian surgeon -- Renat Akchurin -- who is leading the team of Russian doctors operating Yeltsin today.