TITLE=RUSSIA / ELECTIONS
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-
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
Nineteen-year old Yulia Ostapenko stands outside a
busy St. Petersburg metro station passing out leaflets
/// 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,
/// 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)
14-Dec-1999 09:36 AM EDT (14-Dec-1999 1436 UTC)
Source: Voice of America
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