Bullish Yeltsin targets Communist voters' country

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 now 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 the document, the Russians have agreed to withdraw their troops from the war- battered 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 the President's now almost-triumphant bandwagon rumbled into the southern city of Rostov-on-Don, where he insisted that he firmly expects to win Sunday's election outright, without going to a run-off. "There will be no second round," he said, before repeating his campaign stunt of giving away money to potential voters - this time, funds for two schools.

Mr Yeltsin's bullish confidence appears to be rooted in the figures compiled by his advisers which suggest he has seized the lead in a clutch of prize areas, some of which voted for the Communist Party in December's parliamentary elections. According to Sergei Filatov, a key figure in Mr Yeltsin's campaign, their analysts have 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, told the Independent that 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.

The science of 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 fevered political cauldron. But their figures may offer clues to the centres that the President is likely to target as the race gathers momentum towards an almost certain run-off in July.

Among key battle grounds, 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 that 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 that this group is shrinking, and gave Mr Yeltsin between 34.5 and 37 per cent, eight points or more ahead of Mr Zyuganov, with between 26 and 15.9 per cent.

But the Yeltsin camp's figures also suggested some other trends afoot: Mr Zhirinovsky, who stunned the world when his party came second in December but seems since to have divebombed, is making a last-minute rally. The liberal economist Mr Grigory Yavlinsky has moved ahead of Mr Yeltsin in Kaliningrad. And General Alexander Lebed is moving upwards slightly.

Yesterday the President's handlers were being careful not to seem too complacent, despite the up-beat mood of their boss. They were busy stoking up an old story that the Communist party has 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 to check that their enemies do not cheat. 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
News
i100
News
Bobbi Kristina Brown, daughter of the late singer Whitney Houston, poses at the premiere of
people
News
people
News
The frequency with which we lie and our ability to get away with it both increase to young adulthood then decline with age, possibly because of changes that occur in the brain
scienceRoger Dobson knows the true story, from Pinocchio to Pollard
Voices
The male menopause: those affected can suffer hot flushes, night sweats, joint pain, low libido, depression and an increase in body fat, among other symptoms
voicesSo the male menopause is real, they say, but what would the Victorians, 'old' at 30, think of that, asks DJ Taylor
Life and Style
health
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Project Assistant

£17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They are a leading company in the field ...

Recruitment Genius: DBA Developer - SQL Server

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Office Manager

£26041 - £34876 per annum: Recruitment Genius: There has never been a more exc...

Recruitment Genius: Travel Customer Service and Experience Manager

£14000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The fastest growing travel comp...

Day In a Page

Turkey-Kurdish conflict: Obama's deal with Ankara is a betrayal of Syrian Kurds and may not even weaken Isis

US betrayal of old ally brings limited reward

Since the accord, the Turks have only waged war on Kurds while no US bomber has used Incirlik airbase, says Patrick Cockburn
VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but doubts linger over security

'A gift from Egypt to the rest of the world'

VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but is it really needed?
Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, applauds a man who clearly has more important things on his mind
The male menopause and intimations of mortality

Aches, pains and an inkling of mortality

So the male menopause is real, they say, but what would the Victorians, 'old' at 30, think of that, asks DJ Taylor
Man Booker Prize 2015: Anna Smaill - How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?

'How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?'

Man Booker Prize nominee Anna Smaill on the rise of Kiwi lit
Bettany Hughes interview: The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems

Bettany Hughes interview

The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems
Art of the state: Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China

Art of the state

Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China
Mildreds and Vanilla Black have given vegetarian food a makeover in new cookbooks

Vegetarian food gets a makeover

Long-time vegetarian Holly Williams tries to recreate some of the inventive recipes in Mildreds and Vanilla Black's new cookbooks
The haunting of Shirley Jackson: Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?

The haunting of Shirley Jackson

Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?
Bill Granger recipes: Heading off on holiday? Try out our chef's seaside-inspired dishes...

Bill Granger's seaside-inspired recipes

These dishes are so easy to make, our chef is almost embarrassed to call them recipes
Ashes 2015: Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

A woefully out-of-form Michael Clarke embodies his team's fragile Ashes campaign, says Michael Calvin
Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza

Andrew Grice: Inside Westminster

Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza
HMS Victory: The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

Exclusive: David Keys reveals the research that finally explains why HMS Victory went down with the loss of 1,100 lives
Survivors of the Nagasaki atomic bomb attack: Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism

'I saw people so injured you couldn't tell if they were dead or alive'

Nagasaki survivors on why Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism
Jon Stewart: The voice of Democrats who felt Obama had failed to deliver on his 'Yes We Can' slogan, and the voter he tried hardest to keep onside

The voter Obama tried hardest to keep onside

Outgoing The Daily Show host, Jon Stewart, became the voice of Democrats who felt the President had failed to deliver on his ‘Yes We Can’ slogan. Tim Walker charts the ups and downs of their 10-year relationship on screen