OPERATION WAIT AND SEE

IF YELTSIN HAS COME CLEAN ON HIS HEALTH, WHY ARE THERE SO MANY QUESTIONS?

Dr. Rinat Akchurin, 50, the heart surgeon who may have the daunting honor of operating on President Boris Yeltsin, was nowhere to be found last week. His answering machine invited callers to leave a message; his colleagues said he was resting. And by late last week, despite its new commitment to openness about Yeltsin's health, the Kremlin had not said when the operation would be performed or where and by whom.

"No formal decision has been made yet" to do the surgery at the Cardiological Research Center, its academic secretary, Dr. Igor Ashmarin, insisted to TIME. "But should they finally choose...

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