Ulcer puts Yeltsin back in hospital

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PRESIDENT Boris Yeltsin, who had just started to make his mark on Russian politics again after illness, was taken back to hospital yesterday, this time suffering from what his press service called a bleeding stomach ulcer. His retreat to the Central Clinical Hospital was bound to set off new calls for his early retirement.

Aides reassured the press on Friday when the 67-year-old Kremlin leader, who spends much of his time "working on documents" at his country residence, failed to keep his appointment in town. Yesterday they admitted a gastroscopy operation - in which optical fibres explore the stomach - had revealed he had a bleeding ulcer. He was "stable" they said.

German Basner, a Russian doctor outside the Yeltsin team, speculated that the President might have given himself an ulcer by taking aspirin to prevent heart attacks. Mr Yeltsin underwent a quintuple heart by-pass operation in 1996. His heart has not bothered him since, but he has had several bouts of bronchitis and pneumonia.