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The Independent Culture
THIS IS not a joking matter. It is the state's interests that are at stake. Every sneeze Yeltsin makes causes fluctuations everywhere, from the stock exchange in Moscow to the Vladivostok department of communal services.

Moskovsky Komsomolets, Russia

NEITHER THE many presidential contenders nor the Kremlin itself are ready for early elections. Among the political elite there appears to be an unspoken pact to keep, if possible, the status quo until 2000 with [Yevgeny] Primakov [the Prime Minister] in the role of premier vice- president while the president is in Gorky 9 [his country residence]. After all, Lenin in his time spent just as much time there.

Sevodnya, Russia

THE KREMLIN has finally changed its line: the administration speaks of the president as its patient, intolerant and stubborn.

Izvestia, Russia

THE CANCELLATION of an already truncated presidential visit is certain to add to a growing roster of calls for Mr Yeltsin to retire with dignity. His relapse is especially striking because the Kremlin had declared him completely recovered on Friday. Yeltsin's seeming near-collapse in Uzbekistan two weeks ago was, by some accounts, the most ominous in a long series of health-related incidents. Concessions may be needed if Mr Yeltsin is to retain any shred of his powers.

New York Times

RUSSIA IS in too much of a mess to be led by a sick, ineffective and unpopular president. Very soon now he will either die in office or be forced to resign. That, of course, will not spell the end to Russia's problems. The nation then has to decide who is fit to take his place, and oversee the bid to recover from economic chaos. In Russia, however, as in many other countries, fitness to rule is all too often based on conjecture and image rather than hard-headed assessment of an individual's ability to manage and govern. So although what Russia needs most at this time is a good manager rather than a populist figurehead, it seems likely the people will get what they want rather than what they need.

Russia Today

YELTSIN'S PROLONGED absences have contributed to Russia's drift after the 17 August devaluation of the rouble. According to Russian constitution, Yeltsin's powers as president shall be terminated in the event of his resignation or sustained inability due to health.

Washington Post