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    Yeltsin Reportedly Ill With Chest Pains

    By Fred Hiatt
    Washington Post Foreign Service
    Thursday, September 19, 1991; Page A23

    MOSCOW, SEPT. 18 -- Reports that Russian republic President Boris Yeltsin had fallen ill today sent shudders through the world financial and diplomatic community, reminding the world of the continuing fragility of what leaders here are calling "the former Soviet Union."

    Yeltsin's spokesman, Pavel Voshchanov, dismissed reports of serious illness and said Yeltsin was home with minor chest pains. In a late afternoon telephone interview, he said Yeltsin planned to resume a normal schedule Thursday.

    Later Voshchanov told Reuter that the 60-year-old Yeltsin might take Thursday off as well "if the doctor advises him" to do so. But he repeated that "all this nonsense about him being seriously ill and in the hospital is not true."

    The reports came as Soviet leaders continued their efforts to build a new government structure, following the virtual collapse last month of the 74-year Communist-dominated central rule. Acting Soviet prime minister Ivan Silayev, after threatening to resign last week, today agreed to stay on in his caretaker post and to resign as Russian republic prime minister in order to devote himself to developing an economic plan for all the republics.

    Silayev had been reported to be at odds with Yeltsin and with chief economic adviser Grigory Yavlinsky. One associate also said Silayev was reluctant to give up his Russian premiership for a central post that might not exist much longer.

    But the prime minister, whose actual title will be chairman of the Inter-Republic Economic Council, said he changed his mind after President Mikhail Gorbachev and the leaders of all the republics, most of which have declared independence, asked him to stay.

    Following the failure of last month's right-wing coup, Yeltsin has emerged as probably the most influential leader in the Soviet Union, working alongside Gorbachev to preserve some form of union while also consolidating his own power and that of the giant Russian republic. A poll released today showed that 64.1 percent of Muscovites feel complete confidence in Yeltsin, while only 21.3 percent place full trust in Gorbachev.

    In 1987, after he broke with Gorbachev and the Communist Party over what he considered the slow pace of reform, Yeltsin was hospitalized with what he called in his autobiography "a severe bout of headaches and chest pains . . . a physical breakdown."

    The Russian president is scheduled to deliver a speech Thursday at the opening session of the Russian republic parliament and to meet with U.S. Treasury Secretary Nicholas Brady. He then plans to visit Nagorno-Karabakh, a section of the Azerbaijani republic torn by ethnic strife where he hopes to act as a mediator.

    {Meanwhile, in the republic of Georgia, authorities arrested another dissident after republic President Zviad Gamsakhurdia urged his supporters to take action against those trying to unseat him, the Associated Press reported. Filmmaker Georgi Haindrava was the fourth person to be detained this week.

    {In Stockholm, Soviet Foreign Minister Boris Pankin said that most of the ambassadors recalled after the failed coup have agreed to return to their posts only to "say goodbye," Reuter reported. Pankin said the ambassadors, who were summoned home for allegedly wavering in their support for Gorbachev, were given the chance to "determine themselves what their future work will be," and most of them asked to go back to their posts and then return to Moscow.}

    © Copyright 1991 The Washington Post Company

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