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Russia: Ill Yeltsin Cancels All Engagements

MOSCOW, 11 December 1997 (RFE/RL) -- The Kremlin says President Boris Yeltsin is experiencing some discomfort caused by a viral respiratory infection. On advice from his doctors, Yeltsin canceled his weekly radio address, which is usually recorded Thursday and broadcast Friday morning.

The 66-year-old Yeltsin was hospitalized yesterday, and was told to rest for ten-to-12 days. Russian state television showed a tired-looking Yeltsin meeting today with his chief of staff, Valentin Yumashev. The brief footage showed the president, wearing a cardigan sweater, sitting in a chair conversing with Yumashev.

The Kremlin said Yeltsin also spoke by telephone with Bulgaria's President Petar Stoyanov, and signed a decree aimed at shoring up the government's finances by cutting spending and tightening fiscal controls.

In Sofia, Bulgaria's President Petar Stoyanov told reporters that he agreed with Yeltsin to postpone their Moscow meeting, originally scheduled for next week, until February or March.

Some Western reports have speculated on whether Yeltsin's hospitalization might be related to his history of heart trouble. But, Yeltsin's heart surgeon, Dr. Renat Akchurin, today said Yeltsin's cold and viral respiratory infection are not linked to last year's cardiac surgery. Akchurin said he is not alarmed in the least by Yeltsin's general health.