Date: Mon, 8 Jul 1996 19:55:55 CDT
How workers, nationalities voted in Russian Elections
By Bill Doares, Workers World, 4 July 1996
Moscow - The headlines in Moscow's English-language business press after the first round of Russia's presidential election on June 16 were unambiguous.
"Markets up on news of Yeltsin win." "Results satisfy big business." "Oil firms laud results of first round." "Russia debt prices soar with Yeltsin lead." "U.S. pleased with election results." "German markets boosted."
Like sharks smelling blood, Western capitalist investors anticipate huge profits to be made on the backs of Russia's workers if U.S.-backed President Boris Yeltsin defeats Communist Party challenger Gennady Zyuganov. The candidates face each other again in a July 3 runoff election.
The election, however, demonstrated the true instability of Yeltsin's capitalist regime.
In Russia's populous industrial heartland, the "red belt" that stretches from the Volga river to the Ukraine and Belarus borders, the workers loathe Yeltsin. The industries of these regions, built under a socialist planned economy, have little future under the capitalist profit system. Workers there have been impoverished by privatization and capitalist restructuring.
In manufacturing centers like Bryansk, Tambov, Oryol, Penza and Kursk, the Communist vote was over 50 percent. That was also true in the Chuvash national republic, where tractor builders have been on strike for six months demanding unpaid back wages, and in the Mordovian republic.
In Volgograd, Ulyanovsk, Voronezh, Belgorov, Ryazan, Smolensk and Orenburg, and the Bashkir and Mari national republics, well over 40 percent chose Zyuganov.
That was also true in the coal-mining and industrial centers of Siberia and in the Kuban, Russia's main farming region.
COMMUNIST VOTE STRONG IN SMALL REPUBLICS
In the Caucasus, the most multinational part of Russia, the Communist vote was overwhelming: 66 percent in Dagestan, 63 percent in North Ossetia, and 57 percent in Karachoy-Cherkessia.
In Siberia's Auygey, Gorno-Altay and Buryat republics, Zyuganov led by 52, 42 and 40 percent, respectively.
In spite of Yeltsin's media monopoly, 66 percent of all voters chose other candidates, by official count. Most of those voted for Zyuganov.
There is strong evidence that the campaign of Gen. Alexander Lebed was financed by pro-Yeltsin forces to take votes away from Zyuganov. Lebed projected a nationalist image and campaigned on an anti-Yeltsin and anti-corruption program. Before the election, he admitted that 85 percent of his voters would otherwise vote for Zyuganov.
Military and militia personnel received direct orders to vote for Yeltsin. Most workers from other former Soviet republics now living in Russia were not eligible to vote.
Nor were the majority of Russian citizens living in other parts of the former USSR. Both groups are considered pro- Zyuganov. However, Russian emigres in the U.S. and Israel could vote, and they overwhelmingly chose Yeltsin.
Yeltsin officially got a majority of votes in Moscow and Leningrad, strongholds of the new Russian bourgeoisie, and in his home town of Sverdlovsk. He was also given the largest vote in oil- and mineral-rich parts of Russia that have become dependent on foreign capital since the collapse of Soviet power.
In one-industry towns like Magnitogorsk and Novilsk, bosses told workers that now-privatized plants would shut down and leave if Zyuganov were elected.
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