Sunday 19 November 2017

Yeltsin 'suffered heart attack' when he left Taoiseach waiting

Fionnan Sheahan

Fionnan Sheahan

THE late Russian president, Boris Yeltsin, wasn't drunk when he left Albert Reynolds standing on the tarmac at Shannon Airport -- he'd had a heart attack. Or so his daughter claims 16 years after the infamous incident.

Mr Reynolds, the then Taoiseach, was left waiting in vain for Mr Yeltsin when his private jet made a refuelling stop in September 1994.

The Russian president, on his way home from meeting former US President Bill Clinton, was to have lunch with Mr Reynolds at the airport.

After the Taoiseach, his wife Kathleen, flower girls, a military band and a guard of honour making up the greeting party were left waiting on the runway, Russia's deputy prime minister Olog Soskovetz was dispatched to meet Mr Reynolds in the terminal building.

"He is extremely tired. He has been travelling for 17 hours," Mr Soskovetz explained.

The cause of Mr Yeltsin's tiredness was widely interpreted as alcohol as the president had a reputation for having a drinking problem. It was rumoured he was too drunk to meet with Mr Reynolds.

However, his daughter, Tatyana Yumasheva, says Mr Yeltsin suffered a heart attack but didn't want to make this public.

Ms Yumasheva worked as an aide to Mr Yeltsin at the Kremlin for four years.

"There was an alcohol problem but I think that when my father did drink it was because of the enormous stress he was under," she said in an interview with the 'Sunday Times'.

Although Mr Yeltsin led Russia through the break-up of the Soviet Union, he is often remembered for appearances where he seemed to be drunk.

Irish Independent

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