Date: Wed, 3 Jul 1996 10:36:49 CDT
Eyewitness Moscow: The vote breakdown
By Bill Doares, Workers World, 27 June 1996
Preliminary results of the first round of the Russian election give Boris Yeltsin 35 percent to Gennadi Zyuganov's 32 percent.
Those who voted for Zyuganov, presidential candidate of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation (KPRF) and the People's Patriotic Bloc, defied threats of civil war from the capitalist Yeltsin regime. They defied an overwhelming media lie campaign, much of it financed by U.S. corporations.
They defied the forces of global monopoly capital, which spent billions to keep Yeltsin in power. And they defied the Pentagon and NATO, which threatened a new Cold War in the event of a KPRF victory.
The International Monetary Fund had given Yeltsin $10 billion. The World Bank slipped him another $5 billion, and other U.S.-controlled institutions funneled at least $1 billion to his campaign.
Alexander Lebed, a former Soviet general and Afghan war veteran who campaigned on a vague nationalist and anti- corruption program, came in third with 15 percent.
Lebed's campaign received a massive infusion of cash in the last weeks before the election, enabling him to launch an advertising blitz. Street interviews found that most of Lebed's votes would have otherwise gone to Zyuganov.
As in last December's parliamentary elections, industrial and agricultural workers voted overwhelmingly for Zyuganov.
In Moscow, however, a large majority voted for Yeltsin. "I'm in the ministry of education and my husband is an engineer," a fur-clad Yeltsin voter told Workers World. "Life is much better now. We are free to travel all over the world and can buy whatever we want.
"What do the Communists promise? Cheap sausage!"
"What's wrong with cheap sausage?" asked a kindergarten teacher living on Moscow's outskirts. "If that's such a little thing, why can't Yeltsin give it to us? Freedom to travel? In Communist times, I earned 250 rubles a month and could fly anywhere in the Soviet Union for 50 rubles.
"Now I get paid 200,000 rubles and pay 100,000 for rent. We can't afford to buy anything now."
Yeltsin appealed to younger voters who only remember the years of collapse under Gorbachev. He promised wealth, Western money and an end to compulsory military service.
But his campaign's main emphasis was anti-communism. Zyuganov failed to counter this in a forceful way. He didn't strongly attack U.S. corporations now plundering Russia, or Russia's hated new capitalist class.
He rarely spoke of socialism or concrete anti-capitalist measures. In a mild election-day statement, Zyuganov called for understanding between "all layers of society."
Did this weaken his campaign? A Washington Post exit poll found that 50 percent preferred life under socialism. Under 25 percent thought things are better now. Sixty-seven percent were against private ownership of industry.
On June 18, Yuri Klodkov, Moscow secretary of the Workers' Russia movement, told Workers World: "Under these conditions, the vote has to be considered a victory. Some who hoped to win through elections were disappointed, but we know that the electoral process is under the regime's control.
"It is not elections but the organized action of the working class that will determine the future of Russia."
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