President may be sicker than first admitted

YELTSIN ON THE BRINK

PHIL REEVES HELEN WOMACK

Moscow

Aides to Boris Yeltsin yesterday struck a distinctly cautious note over his medical condition, raising fears that the Russian President's heart ailment is worse than they originally admitted, and strengthening doubts about his ability to remain in the Kremlin's top job for much longer.

His staff confirmed that he will not be hosting a conference in Moscow next Tuesday between the presidents of Bosnia, Serbia and Croatia - delivering a blow to his plans to use the summit to bolster his flagging popularity at home and his international standing.

Mr Yeltsin's press secretary, Sergei Medvedev, said the 64-year-old president would be under close medical supervision for more than five weeks, further damaging his chances of working behind the scenes to support moderate pro-reform candidates in December's parliamentary elections. But he said the Russian leader, who is in hospital after his second bout of heart trouble in less than four months, had not at any point lost consciousness, and was under "active but not intensive therapy". He was being visited only by doctors, guards and members of his family.

Although he will probably be out of action for some time, the Kremlin continued to emphasise that Mr Yeltsin was still in charge. Mr Medvedev accused his political enemies of trying to exploit his illness, adding: "This is not just speculation. I have already observed it, but Yeltsin's boxer's instincts will come to the fore." He also revealed that Mr Yeltsin has the suitcase containing the so-called nuclear-launch button with him.

The Prime Minister, Viktor Chernomyrdin, who under the Russian constitution would take over until an election was held if Mr Yeltsin was incapacitated, was deliberately nonchalant when accosted on his way to a routine economic conference. "He's okay, he's okay, he's okay," he said, under siege from the media.

Mr Yeltsin was taken by helicopter on Thursday from a country residence to Moscow's Central Clinical Hospital, two days after arriving home from a gruelling four-day trip to France and the United States. Aides said he was exhausted towards the end of his trip, and had suffered a recurrence of the heart ailment, ischaemia.

Reporters were not invited to see his return home, spawning yet another conspiracy theory about the real state of his health, which the Kremlin has sought to cover up in the past - along with evidence of his heavy drinking. The popular daily Moskovsky Komsomolets, which has a reputation for sensationalism, yesterday noted that television viewers were shown a picture of a cheerful Mr Yeltsin emerging from a plane and setting foot on wet tarmac. "It wasn't raining that day, either in Moscow or the Moscow region," said the paper, "maybe it was just a little local rain at the airport."

Another conspiracy theory was launched yesterday by the ultra-nationalist, Vladimir Zhirinovsky, who announced, in a typically outrageous remark, that enemy spies were responsible for Mr Yeltsin's relapse. "These are the intrigues of the foreign special intelligence services," he said, "Clinton needs a victory in the next election and if Yeltsin stays president of Russia, Clinton will lose the election. This is the dirty world of politics when people are killed so that another man on the other side of the world could again become a president."

But on the streets of Moscow, news of Mr Yeltsin's condition continued to be greeted by widespread indifference. Grigory Livshits, a former engineer who now drives a taxi, said he would feel sorry if he died - but added: "I wouldn't be voting for him again anyway."

Life and Style
tech

Sales of the tablet are set to fall again say analysts

News
A Brazilian wandering spider
news

World's most lethal spider found under a bunch of bananas

Life and Style
fashion

British supermodel and hitmaker join forces to launch a 'huge song'

News
news

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge announce they are set to welcome second child in spring

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Life and Style
gaming

I Am Bread could actually a challenging and nuanced title

Sport
Mario Balotelli pictured in the win over QPR
footballInternet reacts to miss shocker for Liverpool striker
Voices
Sol Campbell near his home in Chelsea
voices
News
i100
News
Kimi the fox cub
newsBurberry under fire from animal rights group - and their star, Kimi
Sport
Fans of Palmeiras looks dejected during the match between Palmeiras and Santos
footballPalmeiras fan killed trying to 'ambush' bus full of opposition supporters
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

NQT Job Opportunties in Winsford

£85 - £100 per day: Randstad Education Chester: Are you a Newly Qualified Teac...

Year 3 Teachers needed for supply roles

£110 - £130 per day + Competitive rates of pay: Randstad Education Reading: Ye...

Year 1 Teachers needed for day to day roles

£110 - £130 per day + Competitive rates of pay: Randstad Education Reading: Pr...

Year 2 Teachers needed for day to day roles

£110 - £130 per day + Competitive rates of pay: Randstad Education Reading: Ye...

Day In a Page

Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

'They poured water on, then electrified me...'

If Oscar Pistorius is sent to jail, his experience will not be that of other inmates
James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
Ebola in the US: Panic over the virus threatens to infect President Obama's midterms

Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

Just one person has died, yet November's elections may be affected by what Republicans call 'Obama's Katrina', says Rupert Cornwell
Premier League coaches join the RSC to swap the tricks of their trades

Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

Premier League coaches are joining the RSC to learn acting skills, and in turn they will teach its actors to play football. Nick Clark finds out why
How to dress with authority: Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear

How to dress with authority

Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear
New book on Joy Division's Ian Curtis sheds new light on the life of the late singer

New book on Ian Curtis sheds fresh light on the life of the late singer

'Joy Division were making art... Ian was for real' says author Jon Savage
Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

The Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Barbra Streisand is his true inspiration
Tim Minchin, interview: The musician, comedian and world's favourite ginger is on scorching form

Tim Minchin interview

For a no-holds-barred comedian who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, he is surprisingly gentle in person
Boris Johnson's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Boris's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Many of us Brits still disapprove of conspicuous consumption – it's the way we were raised, says DJ Taylor
Ash frontman Tim Wheeler reveals how he came to terms with his father's dementia

Tim Wheeler: Alzheimer's, memories and my dad

Wheeler's dad suffered from Alzheimer's for three years. When he died, there was only one way the Ash frontman knew how to respond: with a heartfelt solo album
Hugh Bonneville & Peter James: 'Peter loves his classic cars; I've always pootled along fine with a Mini Metro. I think I lack his panache'

How We Met: Hugh Bonneville & Peter James

'Peter loves his classic cars; I've always pootled along fine with a Mini Metro. I think I lack his panache'
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's heavenly crab dishes don't need hours of preparation

Bill Granger's heavenly crab recipes

Scared off by the strain of shelling a crab? Let a fishmonger do the hard work so you can focus on getting the flavours right
Radamel Falcao: How faith and love drive the Colombian to glory

Radamel Falcao: How faith and love drive the Colombian to glory

After a remarkable conversion from reckless defender to prolific striker, Monaco's ace says he wants to make his loan deal at Old Trafford permanent
Terry Venables: Premier League managers must not be allowed to dictate who plays and who does not play for England

Terry Venables column

Premier League managers must not be allowed to dictate who plays and who does not play for England
The Inside Word: Brendan Rodgers looks to the future while Roy Hodgson is ghost of seasons past

Michael Calvin's Inside Word

Brendan Rodgers looks to the future while Roy Hodgson is ghost of seasons past