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Gorbachev Fine, on Vacation, Official Says

September 23, 1987|From the Washington Post

MOSCOW — Soviet leader Mikhail S. Gorbachev, who has not been seen publicly since Aug. 7, is still on vacation and in excellent health, a Foreign Ministry spokesman said Tuesday.

Deputy information director Boris Pyadyshev denied rumors now circulating in Moscow that Gorbachev, 56, is recovering from an undisclosed ailment. He gave no date for the leader's return to work, saying the Kremlin does not release such information in advance. This year, for the first time, the Soviet press did not announce when the general secretary went on vacation.

The rumors of Gorbachev's illness, similar to ones that surfaced during his vacation last summer about an unconfirmed assassination attempt, were given wider currency by a report in the West German newspaper Bild that Gorbachev had been stricken by food poisoning and hospitalized.

Pyadyshev stressed that in Gorbachev's absence, the Soviet government has given a positive assessment of the U.S.-Soviet accords reached in Washington last week on a pending agreement to eliminate medium- and shorter-range nuclear missiles.

The Soviet spokesman said that remaining technicalities can be resolved by U.S. and Soviet negotiators in Geneva over the next month if both sides "apply all efforts and work day and night."

He noted, however, that a final draft, while desirable, is not essential for the meetings scheduled here late next month between Secretary of State George P. Shultz and Soviet Foreign Minister Eduard A. Shevardnadze. Pyadyshev said 70 pages of the treaty text have already been prepared.

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