THE BORIS YELTSIN BLUES

EVEN HIS CLOSEST AIDES HAVE BEGUN TO GIVE UP HOPE THAT THE PRESIDENT CAN RECOVER FULLY AND LEAD

By all accounts, Russian president Boris Yeltsin is on the mend. He was released from the hospital last week to continue his recovery from a bout of pneumonia at his dacha outside Moscow. Compared with the serious heart problems and the complex bypass surgery he endured last fall, his present illness seems minor.

And after all, he is only one man. The U.S. kept ticking away when Dwight Eisenhower suffered from serious illnesses. When Ronald Reagan was severely wounded, the government kept working. The diagnosis of Francois Mitterrand's ultimately fatal cancer early in his presidential term didn't stop France from functioning.

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