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Last Updated: Friday, 1 December 2006, 10:23 GMT
Russian ex-PM 'now much better'
Former Russian Prime Minister Yegor Gaidar
Mr Gaidar was rushed to intensive care after collapsing in Dublin
The health of former Russian Prime Minister Yegor Gaidar - who has a mystery illness - has greatly improved, his spokesman has told the BBC.

Valery Natarov said that compared with Mr Gaidar's state a few days ago "his health condition is much better".

Mr Gaidar is in a Moscow hospital. He fell violently ill in Ireland a week ago - a day after Russian ex-spy Alexander Litvinenko died of poisoning.

The UK embassy in Moscow says there is nothing so far to suggest a link.

On Thursday, Mr Gaidar's daughter Maria told the BBC that doctors believed he had been poisoned.

Irish police are also investigating the claims.

Mr Natarov said Russian President Vladimir Putin had had a brief conversation with Mr Gaidar by phone on Thursday. It was "just a human-to-human talk about the health condition of Mr Gaidar," Mr Natarov said.

Mr Gaidar briefly served as prime minister in 1992 under President Putin's predecessor, Boris Yeltsin.

He now heads a Moscow-based think-tank which has criticised President Putin's economic policies, but he is a marginal political figure who is not regarded as a prominent political opponent of the Russian leader.

Suspicions

Mr Gaidar suffered from a nose bleed and vomiting before fainting in Dublin last Friday, during a visit to promote his book The Death of Empire: Lessons for Contemporary Russia.

YEGOR GAIDAR
June-Dec 1992: Russian acting prime minister
Implemented economic "shock therapy"
Director of Institute for the Economy in Transition
Ms Gaidar was quoted as saying her father had eaten a "simple breakfast of fruit salad and a cup of tea".

Ms Gaidar, an anti-Kremlin activist, told the BBC that doctors in Moscow had been unable to find any other cause except poisoning.

"The doctors think that they don't find any other reason of his condition that he was poisoned with some strange poison they cannot identify," she said. "But to have an official conclusion they're still waiting for the information of the doctors of Dublin."

She said that if her father had been deliberately poisoned, "it could be a political poisoning, because there are no personal or business reasons why someone would want to do that".

Mr Gaidar was treated in intensive care in Dublin after he collapsed, before being flown to Moscow.

The Irish government said it had no reason to believe there was anything untoward about Mr Gaidar's illness.

However, the police force said it was investigating Mr Gaidar's movements during his trip.

"Enquiries to date have been conducted with hospital and medical staff and through the diplomatic corps," a police statement said.

As acting prime minister, Mr Gaidar was responsible for introducing sweeping economic reforms following the collapse of the Soviet Union.

His programme of economic "shock therapy" - under which price controls were lifted and large-scale privatisations were launched - angered many Russians who saw their savings devalued.


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