Yeltsin Rises Again

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MOSCOW: After a long and secretive absence in poor health, Boris Yeltsin has tottered back to public life. Following a week in which no one was quite sure where Yeltsin was, if he was actually running Russia or even, as some had reported, was near death, the Russian President put the rumors temporarily to rest Thursday in a television appearance and reclaimed control over the government. "Dressed in a well-tailored blue suit, Yeltsin looked well-groomed, and sun-tanned," reports TIME's Yuri Zarakhovich. "His face seemed to have lost the puffiness, so remarkable at the inauguration ceremony earlier this month, which had been his last public appearance before today. Though he spoke slowly and not without an effort, he did not seem to have the distinctive slur that marred the delivery of his Presidential oath at the inauguration ceremony." Yeltsin dismissed rumors that he would seek treatment in Switzerland, and hinted that he might do without the longer vacation that he had planned. It is not the first time that Yeltsin has mastered all his enormous native strength, pulling himself together just when it seemed he was down for the count. "The most remarkable recoveries took place in July 1995, when Yeltsin indeed was in danger of dying, and in the beginning of his presidential race last April, when he emerged from a long seclusion to stubbornly campaign, make public appearances, and even dance to rock music to win the vote," says Zarakhovich. "However, each such recuperation seems to take a heavy toll. These bouts of hyper-activity that followed periods of inaction and illness have led to passivity and long hospital stays, reminding the Russians of the Brezhnev-Chernenko era." How long Yeltsin's latest recovery will last is anybody's guess: "Over last 80 years, the Soviet school of medicine has attained only one major achievement to boast: it has honed to perfection the craft of boosting up Politburo members and keeping them going, even if they were not at the top of their capacity to rule the country," says Zarakhovich. Yeltsin is now putting the Soviet school of medicine to its toughest test. -->