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Russia: Yeltsin Cancels Netherlands Visit

Moscow, 27 January 1997 (RFE/RL) - On orders from his doctors, Russian President Boris Yeltsin has cancelled a visit to the Netherlands for a European Union-Russian summit, says a Kremlin spokesman. Doctors had advised Yeltsin, who is recovering from pneumonia, not to leave Moscow.

"Because of this, agreement has been reached with the government of the Netherlands and the chairman of the European Union to postpone the visit to the Netherlands. It will take place in Moscow in the near future," said the spokesman.

A spokesman for the EU's Dutch presidency said today that the EU decided not to go ahead with the February 3-4 summit with Russian Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin, preferring to wait until President Boris Yeltsin recovers.

The confirmation that the president would not be making the trip to The Hague came against a background of renewed speculation in Moscow about his health.

Yeltsin left hospital a week ago after treatment for double pneumonia. Two months earlier he underwent a quintuple heart bypass operation.

Presidential spokesman Sergei Yasterzhembsky told Interfax today that Yeltsin is closely following today's elections in Chechnya. He said that Yeltsin instructed Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin and Security Council Secretary Ivan Rybkin to hold a special session of the Consultative Council tomorrow to discuss the results of the Chechen elections.

Yasterzhembsky said the president's chief of staff Anatoly Chubais and the leaders of both chambers of parliament would also be invited to attend the council's session.

But Prime Minister Chernomyrdin says Yeltsin is still handling all key domestic and foreign policy matters, despite his bout with pneumonia.

Interfax news agency today quotes him as saying "The President is returning to good form and will be in good form." Spokesman Yastrzhembsky also rallied behind Yeltsin, telling Echo radio that there is no reason for alarm over Yeltsin's health.