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DATE=3/26/2000
TYPE=CORRESPONDENT REPORT
TITLE=RUSSIA/ELECTIONS (L)
NUMBER=2-260214
BYLINE=EVE CONANT
DATELINE=MOSCOW
CONTENT=
VOICED AT:
INTRO:  Millions of Russians are voting Sunday for a 
new president, with Acting President and former KGB 
operative Vladimir Putin the most likely winner. 
Moscow correspondent Eve Conant reports the question 
is whether Acting President Putin will win in a first 
round victory, or if he'll face Communist challenger 
Gennady Zyuganov in a run-off. 
TEXT: Security is tight across the country as millions 
of Russians in 11 time zones vote for a new president. 
The country's Acting President Vladimir Putin, with 
his promises to revive the economy and restore law and 
order, is expected to emerge the victor. His basic 
slogan is "a decent life" for Russians. 
Mr. Putin has promised to tackle crime and corruption, 
raise wages and pensions, and create a stronger, more 
centralized government. Voters like pensioner Galina 
Yefimovna were already appearing at polling stations 
early Sunday. 
///ACT YEFIMOVNA IN RUSSIAN IN FULL AND FADE UNDER///
"I will vote for Vladimir Putin. He is our hope for 
Russia's renaissance." She says, "he pronounces the 
word `Russia' with pride-as a patriot I hope that with 
him, we will have a better future."
Few Russians doubt Mr. Putin will become their next 
president, but it is unclear whether he will gain more 
than 50-percent of the vote necessary to win outright. 
If he fails to win the necessary majority, Mr. Putin 
would most likely face communist challenger Gennady 
Zyuganov in a second round mid-April.
///OPT/// Russia's election is declared valid if more 
than 50-percent of eligible voters come to the polls. 
Some analysts have speculated there could be low voter 
turnout since most Russians say they assume Mr. Putin 
will win, with or without their vote.  
///ACT MAN IN RUSSIAN IN FULL AND FADE UNDER///
One man says, "I won't vote for Mr. Putin, but he will 
win anyway. My vote doesn't matter." ///END OPT/// 
The 47-year old Mr. Putin, a former KGB spy, was 
plucked from obscurity when President Boris Yeltsin 
handpicked him to become Prime Minister and then 
Acting President. Mr. Putin won widespread popularity 
with his handling of Moscow's military offensive in 
Chechnya and is viewed as a tough, no nonsense leader 
by his supporters.
/// OPT/// But as he cast his vote Sunday, reporters 
asked Mr. Putin why he had failed to end the war in 
Chechnya before the elections. Russia's Interfax news 
agency reports hundreds of Chechen rebels have seized 
the Russian-controlled eastern village of Nozhai Yurt. 
The news agency quotes Mr. Putin as saying "we will 
used all forces and means necessary against those who 
resist."///END OPT/// 
Mr. Putin on Sunday looked confident as he exited the 
polling booth.
///ACT PUTIN IN RUSSIAN IN FULL AND FADE UNDER///
He says, "I will go the countryside now and rest. 
Tomorrow is a hard day and I must go to work. Of 
course I am feeling confident, otherwise I would not 
have done this."
/// OPT/// ///ACT BORIS AFANASYEV IN RUSSIAN IN FULL 
AND FADE UNDER///
Pensioner Boris Afanasyev says "Vladimir Putin is a 
dark horse, we don't know him at all and he has yet to 
reveal his nature. And that is exactly the reason why 
I'll vote for him. I know all the other candidates and 
they don't keep their promises."
Mr. Putin has been careful to distance himself from 
the Yeltsin regime, which many Russians remember as 
one of corruption and painful and poorly-conducted 
economic reforms. 
Expected to place second and third are Communist 
candidate Gennady Zyuganov and liberal reformer 
Grigory Yavlinsky. Mr. Zyuganov told reporters Sunday 
he had sent thousands of observers to polling stations 
to monitor for election abuses. 
///OPT/// One voter who would only give her first 
name, Tatyana says she will vote for the communists 
and that she is afraid of Mr. Putin.
///ACT TATYANA IN RUSSIAN IN FULL AND FADE UNDER///
"I don't like his cold eyes," she says. "And I don't 
like that he used to work for the secret services, 
those people are cold and merciless."///END OPT///
Former President Boris Yeltsin also came to the polls 
Sunday. As he cast his vote to elect a new president 
Mr. Yeltsin said he believed reforms would continue. 
///ACT YELTSIN IN RUSSIAN IN FULL AND FADE UNDER///
He says, "everyone expects some changes, but I am sure 
the main course of reforms will remain."
He declined to say whom he had voted for. But Russians 
know that Mr. Putin is President Yeltsin's personal 
choice to succeed him to lead Russia for the next four 
years. (Signed)
NEB/EC/PLM
26-Mar-2000 04:44 AM EDT (26-Mar-2000 0944 UTC)
NNNN
Source: Voice of America
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