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Russia: Yeltsin Wants To Move To Another Hospital

Moscow, 6 November 1996 (RFE/RL) -- Russian President Boris Yeltsin is in stable and satisfactory condition after yesterday's open heart surgery and is asking doctors to let him leave the heart clinic for another hospital.

Kremlin spokesman Sergei Yastrzhembsky told a news conference in Moscow today that "all of us in the Kremlin are in a good mood because Boris Nikolayevich is recovering quickly, surprising the doctors with his strong health and powerful will." He added that Yeltsin "is hurrying the doctors to discharge him."

Yastrzhembsky said a council of Russian and foreign doctors met this morning to review Yeltsin's progress after the seven-hour quintuple heart bypass. Yastrzhembsky said doctors have concluded that Yeltsin's condition is "stable, fully satisfactory and corresponds to the gravity of the operation." He said that doctors will meet again tomorrow, to establish if Yeltsin can be moved.

U.S. heart specialist Michael DeBakey, who was a consultant during the operation, told U.S. news organizations that Yeltsin was alert and in a good mood this morning. DeBakey said Yeltsin should recover fully in six to eight weeks and could even play tennis within four months. But DeBackey said he had warned Yeltsin not to take things too fast.

DeBakey also said he believes Yeltsin would not have served out a second term in office without the surgery. He said than when he first saw Yeltsin in September, the Russian president was "considerably incapacitated."

DeBakey added that "working two or three hours a day at the hospital was beginning to exhaust Yeltsin." The U.S. specialist had high praises for the team of Russian doctors, whom he says conducted the operation in a "perfectly smooth manner." He said that after surgery he expects Yeltsin to carry out his four-year term "perfectly normally."

According to Yastrzhembsky, psychological reasons were mainly behind Yeltsin's desire to return to the Central Clinical Hospital, where he has spent much time during previous illnesses. Yesterday's heart surgery was performed at Moscow's Cardiology Research Center.

Yeltsin signed a decree taking back all presidential powers earlier today. He also met Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin for 15 minutes and told him he is determined to return to work as soon as possible. Chernomyrdin, who tempororarily took over from Yeltsin yesterday, will have to report to Yeltsin within three days on all decision taken while he held presidential powers.

Meanwhile, Russian communist leader Gennady Zyuganov today wished President Boris Yeltsin a swift recovery after his multiple bypass heart surgey. But Zyuganov questioned Yeltsin's ability to rule, saying no one had ever run a country from an intensive-care unit.

Zyuganov had been Yeltsin's main rival in last July's presidential runoff and had been prominent before the surgery among opposition leaders, saying Yeltsin was unfit to rule and should step down.

In his first reaction to Yeltsin's surgery, Zyuganov told the French AFP news agency that stability of Russia depended "on the willingness of political leaders to change the man in charge." And he said that he sees "no such willingness."

Zyuganov's comments today came after a visit to the Lenin Mausoleum, on Red Square, on the eve of tomorrow's anniversary of the 1917 Russian Revolution.