Kremlin reports Yeltsin ill with viral infection

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The Independent Online

Russian President Boris Yeltsin has again fallen ill, this time with a viral infection accompanied by acute bronchitis, the Kremlin said Thursday.

Russian President Boris Yeltsin has again fallen ill, this time with a viral infection accompanied by acute bronchitis, the Kremlin said Thursday.

The president was resting at his Gorky-9 residence in the woods west of Moscow after briefly receiving treatment from his doctors at the Central Clinical Hospital, the Kremlin and Russian news agencies said.

There were no details on the seriousness of the president's illness. However, he has been hospitalized frequently in the past, and the doctors' decision to send him home suggested they judged his ailment to be relatively mild.

Yeltsin, 68, has been ill repeatedly during his second term in office and has frequently suffered from respiratory infections, particularly in the winter.

His latest ailment came as the weather in Moscow has turned bitterly cold, with a temperature of minus 15 Celsius (5 degrees Fahrenheit) during the day Thursday.

Yeltsin had looked relatively healthy in recent days. He seemed particularly energized last week in Istanbul, Turkey, where he staunchly defended Russia's military offensive in Chechnya at a summit of the Organization of Security and Cooperation in Europe.

Yeltsin met Thursday morning in the Kremlin with Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and other security officials.

But after the talks, "the president began to feel poorly" and went to the Central Clinical Hospital to see his doctors, Yeltsin's spokesman Dmitry Yakushkin told the Interfax news agency.

Yeltsin was driven to his residence afterward and was resting on Thursday afternoon.

Yeltsin rarely manages a full day of work in the Kremlin, and usually visits his office only a few days a week. But he has insisted he will serve out his second term, which runs until the middle of next year.

Yeltsin is extremely unpopular among Russians, who have grown accustomed to his illnesses and extended disappearances from public view.

Putin handles the government's day-to-day affairs, and Yeltsin's absence is not seen as a cause for alarm.

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