ALMATY, Kazakstan (AP) — Russian President Boris Yeltsin cut short a trip to Central Asia on Monday due to a respiratory infection, reviving questions about his health and ability to lead a country faced with economic crisis and NATO threats against its Yugoslav allies.
Russia has been leading a campaign to forestall airstrikes in Kosovo. Moscow’s NTV station said it was a crucial time for Russia, when “presidential decisions” are needed.
There was no indication that Yeltsin’s illness would sideline him for any length of time, and aides said the president would maintain his schedule for the rest of the week.
But after a series of health problems in recent years, including heart bypass surgery in 1996, every new ailment unleashes a flurry of speculation about the 67-year-old president’s ability to function. The president insists he has no major health problems and will serve out the remaining two years of his term.
Yeltsin’s aides said the president was taking antibiotics to ward off a bout of bronchitis and a mild 99.3-degree fever. There were no plans to hospitalize Yeltsin, who arrived back in Moscow late Monday night from Almaty, Kazakstan, a day earlier than planned.