Not a picture of health as Yeltsin admits heart attack

Helen Womack,Jojo Moyes
Tuesday 18 July 1995 23:02



President Boris Yeltsin, appearing on television for the first time since entering hospital last week, admitted yesterday that he had suffered a heart attack.

The revelation followed a bizarre outbreak of speculation over an official photograph, which had implied that the Kremlin was being economical with the truth about the seriousness of his illness.

The Kremlin had released an official picture of the president, supposedly taken in the hospital last week, which, Russian journalists noted, was suspiciously similar to an image of Mr Yeltsin dating back to April.

The pictures show Yeltsin wearing the same shirt, sitting in front of the same curtains, with the same four telephones at his left elbow, facing the same pile of documents on a desk in front of him. The wallpaper was identical, as was Mr Yeltsin's hairstyle.

Few people outside Yeltsin's inner circle had seen him since he was hospitalised in Mos-cow's Central Clinic on 11 July, and there had been no independent reports or statements from his doctors.

Russian newspapers noted darkly that the Kremlin has a long history of suppressing or distorting news about the health of the country's leaders. During Soviet times, news of their heart attacks and strokes was strictly suppressed.

Sergei Medvedev, Mr Yelt-sin's press secretary, denied releasing an old photograph, but only managed to stem speculation by allowing a television crew to interview the President.

"Something unpleasant happened to me on the 10th [of July]," the president said on air last night, speaking slowly in a husky voice. "Basically, a heart attack as a result of ischaemia. But after two days I was already calm. From then on, active recovery started and now I am recovering. The doctors say the recovery will be full, without any after-effects."

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