Bullish Yeltsin scents poll victory

Boris Yeltsin, riding high on the strength of flattering polls, scored a double-barrelled success yesterday. His spin-doctors flourished evidence that the President is ahead in his fight for re-election in some of the most sought-after, voter-rich territory in Russia. And a crucial agreement was signed in Chechnya.

Under it, the Russians have agreed to withdraw their troops from the republic by the end of August in return for the disarmament of the Chechen fighters, a deal which marks another crucial step towards Mr Yeltsin's promise to end the conflict before election day on Sunday.

The move came as his bandwagon rumbled into the southern city of Rostov- on-Don, where he said he expects to win Sunday's election outright, without going to a run-off. His confidence appears to be rooted in figures compiled by advisers which suggest he has seized the lead in a clutch of prize areas, some of which voted for the Communists in December's parliamentary elections. Sergei Filatov, a key figure in Mr Yeltsin's campaign, said their analysts concluded that his ratings have pushed ahead in the far east, the north-west, the Volga valley, the Ural mountains, and western and eastern Siberia.

As examples of these areas, Mr Filatov, a former chief of staff to the President, said they were hoping to win the Volgograd, Nizhny Novgorod, and Perm regions; the Krasnoyarsk and Primorsky territories and the Bashkortostan Republic - despite past Communist successes in these areas. Each contains a healthy parcel of voters - of around 1 million or more, based on last year's turn-out.

Election-information gathering is almost as unsophisticated in Russia as its fledgling democracy and the President's strategists are as prone to being partisan as anyone else operating in the political cauldron. But their figures may offer clues to the centres the President is likely to target as the race gathers momentum towards an almost certain run-off in July.

Among key battlegrounds, according to Mr Filatov, are the north Caucasus; central Russia, including the ancient city of Vladimir, 200 miles east of Moscow; and the central "black-earth" country, which includes Lipetsk, in what is also usually seen as "red-belt", or Communist, territory.

Mr Filatov said Mr Yeltsin's ratings should go over the 35-40 per cent mark this week, giving him a comfortable first- round victory but not enough to win outright. But 20-25 per cent of the electorate were still undecided. Three recent polls suggested this group is shrinking, and gave Mr Yeltsin 34.5 to 37 per cent, eight points or more ahead of his Communist rival, Gennady Zyuganov, with between 26 and 15.9 per cent. But the Yeltsin camp's figures also suggested some other trends afoot: Vladimir Zhirinovsky, who stunned the world when his ultra-nationalist party came second in December but seems since to have divebombed, is making a last-minute rally. The liberal economist Grigory Yavlinsky has moved ahead of Mr Yeltsin in Kaliningrad. And General Alexander Lebed is moving upwards slightly.

Yesterday the President's handlers were careful not to seem too complacent. They were stoking up an old story that the Communists had set up armed formations ready to go into action if the elections do not go their way. To counter this, the streets will be flooded with three times as many police as usual, almost as many as the number of observers from the two main rival camps who plan to descend on the 96,000 voting stations. If nothing else it will be an eventful, and rather crowded, day.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Business Analyst - 12 Month FTC - Entry Level

£23000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Business Analyst is required ...

Recruitment Genius: Chefs - All Levels

£16000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: To succeed, you will need to ha...

Recruitment Genius: Maintenance Engineer

£8 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join an award winni...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales Executive & Customer Service - Call Centre Jobs!

£7 - £9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Are you outgoing? Do you want to work in...

Day In a Page

Isis in Syria: Influential tribal leaders hold secret talks with Western powers and Gulf states over possibility of mobilising against militants

Tribal gathering

Influential clans in Syria have held secret talks with Western powers and Gulf states over the possibility of mobilising against Isis. But they are determined not to be pitted against each other
Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge: A growing population and a compromised and depleted aquifer leaves water in scarce supply for Palestinians

Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge

A growing population and a compromised and depleted aquifer leaves water in scarce supply for Palestinians
Dozens of politicians, bureaucrats and businessmen linked to Indian bribery scandal die mysteriously

Illnesses, car crashes and suicides

Dozens of politicians, bureaucrats and businessmen linked to Indian bribery scandal die mysteriously
Srebrenica 20 years after the genocide: Why the survivors need closure

Bosnia's genocide, 20 years on

No-one is admitting where the bodies are buried - literally and metaphorically
How Comic-Con can make or break a movie: From Batman vs Superman to Star Wars: Episode VII

Power of the geek Gods

Each year at Comic-Con in San Diego, Hollywood bosses nervously present blockbusters to the hallowed crowd. It can make or break a movie
What do strawberries and cream have to do with tennis?

Perfect match

What do strawberries and cream have to do with tennis?
10 best trays

Get carried away with 10 best trays

Serve with ceremony on a tray chic carrier
Wimbledon 2015: Team Murray firing on all cylinders for SW19 title assault

Team Murray firing on all cylinders for title assault

Coaches Amélie Mauresmo and Jonas Bjorkman aiming to make Scot Wimbledon champion again
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - Vasek Pospisil must ignore tiredness and tell himself: I'm in the quarter-final, baby!

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

Vasek Pospisil must ignore tiredness and tell himself: I'm in the quarter-final, baby!
Ashes 2015: Angus Fraser's top 10 moments from previous series'

Angus Fraser's top 10 Ashes moments

He played in five series against Australia and covered more as a newspaper correspondent. From Waugh to Warne and Hick to Headley, here are his highlights
Greece debt crisis: EU 'family' needs to forgive rather than punish an impoverished state

EU 'family' needs to forgive rather than punish an impoverished state

An outbreak of malaria in Greece four years ago helps us understand the crisis, says Robert Fisk
Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge: The traumatised kibbutz on Israel's front line, still recovering from last summer's war with Hamas

Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge

The traumatised kibbutz on Israel's front line, still recovering from last summer's war with Hamas
How to survive electrical storms: What are the chances of being hit by lightning?

Heavy weather

What are the chances of being hit by lightning?
World Bodypainting Festival 2015: Bizarre and brilliant photos celebrate 'the body as art'

World Bodypainting Festival 2015

Bizarre and brilliant photos celebrate 'the body as art'
alt-j: A private jet, a Mercury Prize and Latitude headliners

Don't call us nerds

Craig Mclean meets alt-j - the math-folk act who are flying high