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Russia: Communists, Nationalists Attack Yeltsin

Moscow, 15 January 1997 (RFE/RL) - Russian Communist Party leader Gennady Zyuganov today urged the creation of a committee of medical experts to evaluate the health of the ailing President Boris Yeltsin.

Zyuganov said once deputies received the opinion of an independent medical commission, they could decide on whether to proceed with moves to dismiss Yeltsin. Zyuganov said that since winning re-election last summer, Yeltsin had "not carried out real work," and he added that "every citizen has the right to ask himself why the country is not being managed." Ultra-nationalist politician Vladimir Zhirinovsky, who leads the Liberal Democratic Party, said today he would support any motion to dismiss Yeltsin on health grounds.

Earlier today, the chairman of the Russian State Duma, fellow-Communist Gennady Seleznyov, said Yeltsin's series of illnesses were causing a "crisis of authority." Seleznyov said the fact that Russia's new constitution concentrates power in the president means the country is set adrift if the executive cannot perform his duties.

Russia's constitution, crafted by Yeltsin and his advisers, has been repeatedly criticized by the opposition since its adoption in a 1993 popular referendum.

Yeltsin himself begins his seventh day in a Moscow hospital today for treatment for pneumonia in both lungs. The Kremlin yesterday reported some improvement in his condition. But there was no word on when Yeltsin might leave the hospital and resume a full work schedule.