Yeltsin in hospital with pneumonia

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The Russian president, Boris Yeltsin, was taken to hospital yesterday with the first signs of pneumonia, raising new fears about his health two months after serious heart surgery.

The Kremlin said that the doctors who examined Mr Yeltsin had ordered the 65-year-old president back to the Central Clinical Hospital in Moscow where he recuperated after his quintuple by-pass on 5 November last year.

The president, who had been looking pale and tired, had already cancelled all appointments since Monday because of what the Kremlin said was a heavy cold. Doctors said the cold was not related to the operation and did not threaten his heart.

"Doctors have stated that the first signs of pneumonia developing have appeared," a Kremlin statement said. "In connection with this ... a decision has been taken to take him to the Central Clinical Hospital for several days."

His spokesman at first said he had a cold, but later upgraded it to flu - a bug which is sweeping Moscow.

The pioneering American heart surgeon Michael DeBakey, who advised the Russian doctors who operated on Mr Yeltsin, said he expected the president to make a quick recovery.

But a return to his sickbed only a fortnight after returning to work at the Kremlin is a serious blow to Mr Yeltsin, and opens the way to feuding among his would-be successors such as bedevilled the period running up to his by-pass.