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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

DATE=12/14/1999
TYPE=BACKGROUND REPORT
TITLE=RUSSIA / ELECTIONS
NUMBER=5-44979
BYLINE=EVE CONANT
DATELINE=ST. PETERSBURG
CONTENT=
VOICED AT:
INTRO:  Russia's parliamentary elections are only days 
away and campaigning is in its final stage.  
Candidates are touching on similar themes -- the need 
for strong leadership, a cooling of relations with the 
west, and an easing of painful economic reforms.  
Correspondent Eve Conant visited Russia's second-
largest city -- St. Petersburg, where candidates are 
trying to win votes among a traditionally liberal-
minded populace.
TEXT:  Colorful political advertisements dot the snowy 
avenues of St. Petersburg.  One party promises a 
professional army -- a popular move as Russians 
contemplate just how many of their young men might die 
in Moscow's Chechnya offensive.
Anti-western rhetoric also is a popular topic.  
Campaign literature for the Russian People's Union 
includes a drawing of a rat in a tuxedo, carting off 
Russia's natural resources to the west.  Another 
series of drawings shows a smiling NATO soldier as he 
views a museum of tattered Russian military uniforms.  
The slogan reads -- With friends like this, Russia 
will no longer exist.
The leading "Fatherland-All Russia" bloc says it might 
join with the Communists to present a united front 
against the Kremlin.  Both parties say average 
Russians have been robbed by their leaders, and call 
for revising privatization deals of the early 1990's.
But what seems to be characterizing these elections, 
more than anything else, is a desire for order after 
years of economic decline and chaos.  A candidate in 
the liberal "Right Cause" political movement, Ruslan 
Linkov, says Russian society is at a crossroads as it 
enters the next millennium.
       ///  LINKOV ACT - IN RUSSIAN - FADE UNDER  ///
Mr. Linkov says the Russian people seem willing to 
accept military methods to solve the country's 
political problems -- democratically electing military 
officers to power.  He says -- Russia is practically 
ready to accept a military junta. 
Such rhetoric is due in large part to a series of 
apartment bombings that Russian officials blamed on 
Chechen militants and which gave the Kremlin the 
support it needed to wage war in Chechnya. 
One party gaining in the polls is the "Unity" party, 
backed by Vladimir Putin -- Russia's popular Prime 
Minister and architect of the military campaign in 
Chechnya.  Unity billboards show party leader Sergey 
Shoigu sporting his trademark red ski jacket that he 
wears when sifting through the rubble of bombed 
apartment buildings, or when talking with Chechen 
refugees. 
Nineteen-year old Yulia Ostapenko stands outside a 
busy St. Petersburg metro station passing out leaflets 
for Unity.
    ///  OSTAPENKO ACT - IN RUSSIAN - FADE UNDER  ///
She says Unity seems to have more young people than 
any other party, adding -- in her words -- I do not 
want old people to rule anymore.
But an elderly communist, Valentina Yozhikova, has 
different concerns.  She says Russia needs a national 
idea, a philosophy to live by.
    ///  YOZHIKOVA ACT - IN RUSSIAN - FADE UNDER  ///
She says Russians once -- lived for the idea of 
communism - that was our goal.  But now, she says -- 
all we care about is getting a morsel of food."
The region's governor, Vladimir Yakovlev, a senior 
official in the "Fatherland-All Russia" movement, says 
he believes what society needs is tough leadership, 
not ideas. 
     ///  YAKOVLEV ACT - IN RUSSIAN - FADE UNDER  ///
Governor Yakovlev says that in the early 1990's, 
Russians liked what he calls -- all the outspoken 
liberals with their fancy talk of politics and their 
plans for the future.  But he adds -- you see the 
results. Russia is impoverished.
Another strong feature of this parliamentary election 
campaign has been the intense mudslinging.  Governor 
Yakovlev says his party has slipped in recent polls 
behind the Kremlin's "Unity" party because of Moscow's 
concerted effort to discredit him and bribe away 
leading party members.
At the same time the liberal "Yabloko" party accuses 
the governor of unfairly cracking down on the 
opposition.  As accusations fly, however, average 
Russians say they are sick of watching politicians 
wage war against each other as ordinary citizens grow 
poorer each day. 
         ///  MAN ACT - IN RUSSIAN - FADE UNDER  ///
This man, rushing to catch a train, says he will not 
vote for anyone.  Russia will be in ruins -- he says -
- no matter who is in power.   (SIGNED)
NEB/EC/JWH/RAE
14-Dec-1999 09:36 AM EDT (14-Dec-1999 1436 UTC)
NNNN
Source: Voice of America
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