Russian President Boris N. Yeltsin was hospitalized Tuesday for a worsening heart condition, but aides said his condition is not serious and that the 64-year-old Siberian would spend “not more than a few days” in the hospital.
Yeltsin, who has a history of heart troubles, is reputed to be a heavy drinker and has behaved erratically in public recently.
He suffered an “exacerbation of cardiac ischemia,” a Kremlin statement said. Such ischemia, better known as coronary heart disease, involves a constriction of the blood supply to the heart.
According to the Russian Constitution, if the president dies in office, he is succeeded by the prime minister, with new presidential elections to be held within three months. Aides said Yeltsin has not transferred his powers to Prime Minister Viktor S. Chernomyrdin because the president is in full control.
But analysts saw Yeltsin’s hospitalization, however mild his illness proves, as boosting Chernomyrdin as a possible presidential successor in 1996.
Yeltsin’s popularity ratings remain mired in the single digits; peace talks in Chechnya aimed at ending the 7-month-old conflict in the breakaway Islamic region have yet to produce tangible results, and Yeltsin sacrificed three of his closest ministers to beat back a no-confidence motion by Parliament last month.