Russian Federation President Boris N. Yeltsin suffered a bout of heart trouble, and the head of his government resigned Wednesday, buffeting the political hierarchy of the Soviet Union's largest republic on the eve of an important parliamentary session.
Yeltsin was rushed to a hospital after he complained of "heart insufficiency," the independent Interfax news agency reported. It quoted presidential aide Guennady Burbulis as saying that two meetings with Russian Federation lawmakers were canceled because of Yeltsin's illness.
The Soviet news agency Tass called it a mild heart attack.
But another aide said later that Yeltsin's need for medical assistance had been brought on by Moscow's bad weather and that there was no cause for concern over his health. Many Soviets believe barometric pressure changes can disrupt their circulatory systems.
Yeltsin, 60, who has a history of heart problems, was working at home and plans to address today's opening of the Russian Supreme Soviet as scheduled, said the aide, who declined to give his name.
RIA, the Russian Information Agency, added that Yeltsin also still plans to travel late today to the strife-torn region of Nagorno-Karabakh, where he is to unveil a plan for restoring peace between Armenians and Azerbaijanis after four years of war.
Meanwhile, what appears to have been a power struggle in the Russian leadership ended with the announcement by Ivan S. Silayev that he would leave his job as Russian Federation prime minister to devote his full attention to creating a new Soviet economic union.
Silayev, 60, built his career in the Communist Party-controlled bureaucracy and reportedly became a target of Burbulis, who is thought to be Yeltsin's most influential adviser, because of Silayev's long association with the discredited Old Guard.
Silayev's job switch was an indicator of the continued tumult and struggle for power in the Soviet Union.
A week ago, Silayev had announced his resignation from an interim commission overseeing the Soviet economy, presumably to shore up his more influential, potentially longer-tenured position as head of the Russian Federation government.
But, according to the Tass news agency, Soviet President Mikhail S. Gorbachev proposed Silayev for the job of establishing and chairing a new Inter-Republic Economic Committee. All republic leaders endorsed the choice and asked that he leave the Russian government--now probably the most powerful in this nation--to concentrate on his new duties.
"Since all the republic presidents and chairmen of the supreme soviets at a State Council meeting agreed that it should be my permanent job, I did not find counter-arguments," Silayev told reporters as he headed into a meeting with U.S. Treasury Secretary Nicholas F. Brady.
Silayev indicated that he knew who would be named to replace him, but said he was not at liberty to say. The media here said a new prime minister will be nominated at the Russian Supreme Soviet session opening today.
Sources in the Russian leadership said the front-runners to replace Silayev are the republic's economics minister, Yevgeny Saburov, and the food and agriculture minister, Gennady Kulik.
There was also speculation that the radical free-market economist Grigory Yavlinsky might take over as Russian prime minister. Yavlinsky's proposal for a new Soviet economic union has been accepted in principle by most Soviet republic leaders. But a rival plan offered by Saburov has won the endorsement of Burbulis.
The Inter-Republic Economic Committee that Silayev has been charged with forming is expected to administer Gorbachev's proposed "common economic space," under which all 15 republics that made up the Soviet Union would be invited to cooperate on monetary and trade matters.
Leaders of 10 of the 12 remaining Soviet republics--Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia have won independence--approved a tentative plan Monday for economic union to steer the fracturing federation through the approaching winter. Moldova and Georgia, two other republics trying to secede, did not take part in the meeting of the State Council, the Soviet Union's new executive body headed by Gorbachev.
Some coordinated economic activities are expected to continue among the republics, but Yeltsin has sought a leading role for Russia in the whatever structure emerges from the ruins of the Soviet Union. His address to the opening of the Russian Supreme Soviet is expected to outline plans for economic recovery in his republic.
After his speech, Yeltsin plans to travel to Nagorno-Karabakh to announce a peace plan he has worked out with Gorbachev. The Soviet news agency Tass said Gorbachev is preparing to sign a decree on measures to end ethnic fighting in the contested region, where at least 250 have been killed since February, 1988.
Nagorno-Karabakh is a predominantly Armenian region within the republic of Azerbaijan. The mainly Christian Armenians claim they are repressed by the Azerbaijanis, most of whom are Muslim.
In another troubled region of the Caucasus Mountains, police forces loyal to Georgia's authoritarian president Zviad Gamsakhurdia continued to arrest opposition leaders.
Georgy Khaindrava, a leading member of the National Congress, was taken into custody outside another opposition party headquarters late Tuesday, Interfax reported.
A day earlier, the chairman of the Georgian National Democratic Party, his wife and a top deputy were arrested. The deputy was later released.
Gamsakhurdia has imposed restraints on political opponents that activists in the republic claim are part of a campaign to eliminate any criticism of his hard-line nationalist rule.
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Here's what happened Wednesday in the Soviet Union:
YELTSIN ILL: Russian Federation President Boris N. Yeltsin suffered a bout of heart trouble and was rushed to a hospital. The Soviet news agency Tass said he had a mild heart attack. But a Yeltsin aide wrote it off as a reaction to bad weather and said the president will address today's opening of the Russian Supreme Soviet. Yeltsin, 60, has a history of heart problems.
RUSSIAN PREMIER QUITS: Ivan S. Silayev announced he will resign as Russian Federation prime minister. Silayev, 60, said he wants to devote his full attention to creating a new Soviet economic union. But his resignation appeared to have ended a power struggle in the Russian leadership. Silayev, who had built his career in the Communist Party-controlled bureaucracy, reportedly became a target of Guennady Burbulis, who is thought to be Yeltsin's most influential adviser. Silayev has been tapped to head the new national Inter-Republic Economic Committee.
BRADY OPTIMISTIC: U.S. Treasury Secretary Nicholas F. Brady, visiting Moscow, said his first talks with the Soviet Union's new economic team have given him a "feeling of optimism" that it will be able to conquer problems confronting the crippled Soviet economy.