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Andropov fails to appear at crucial Soviet ceremony

Soviet President Yuri Andropov, who failed to appear Saturday night at a ceremony marking the anniversary of the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917, was expected to miss today's military parade in Red Square, fueling speculation about the leader's health.

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Kremlin spokesman Leonid Zamyatin told reporters that Mr. Andropov was suffering from a cold. But diplomats cannot recall when a Soviet leader has ever missed the event. Even Leonid Brezhnev took his customary reviewing spot on the roof of Lenin's tomb just five days before he passed away last year.

Mr. Andropov has not been seen by foreigners since mid-August. Rumors have persistently circulated through Moscow's diplomatic and press community that he is seriously ill - or, at least, incapacitated to the point that he cannot give full time to the running of Kremlin domestic and foreign policy.

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