Gore calls Zhirinovsky an enemy of freedom: Yeltsin hopes to shape pro-reform coalition - Intelligentsia stands aloof - Comforting words fail to allay Turkish alarm

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The Independent Online
THE United States Vice-President, Al Gore, yesterday criticised the views of the big winner in Russia's parliamentary elections as 'anathema to all freedom-loving people' but said that President Boris Yeltsin had assured him the election results would not slow reforms.

During a session with reporters, Mr Gore twice expressed stinging criticism of Vladimir Zhirinovsky, whose misleadingly named Liberal Democratic Party achieved the biggest number of votes in Sunday's elections.

'The views expressed by Zhirinovsky on issues such as the use of nuclear weapons, the expansion of borders, the treatment of ethnic minorities, are reprehensible and anathema to all freedom-loving people in Russia, the United States and everywhere in the world,' Mr Gore said.

The Vice-President said Mr Yeltsin had expressed optimism that he would be able to put together a pro-reform coalition despite victories by extreme nationalists and Communists. He made his comments as pro-Yeltsin groups in the new Russian parliament took hope from the single- member constituency results in Sunday's elections. The shock of Mr Zhirinovsky's success in the party-list vote was tempered yesterday by news that large numbers of independents had also been elected.

Until the political leanings of all these individuals become clear, it will be difficult to be certain about the assembly which Mr Yeltsin must deal with.

The State Duma (lower house) has 450 seats: 225 will be distributed to the parties on a proportional basis and 225 will go to MPs elected in the constituencies. Since Mr Zhirinovsky's LDP topped the poll with 24 per cent of the vote, according to preliminary results, he and his supporters will get the lion's share of the party seats. The reformist Russia's Choice came second with 14.5 per cent, and the Communist Party was third with 13.5 per cent.

But from the 187 constituencies whose results are in, only five victorious candidates overtly identified themselves with the LDP, compared to 23 loyal to Russia's Choice. An overwhelming 107 elected constituency MPs had stood as independents.

In Yaroslavl, Yevgenia Tishkovskaya, a local worker with no party affiliations, defeated four other candidates, including the fascist hypnotist Anatoly Kashpirovsky, who had thought his victory so sure that he did not even bother to return from the US to campaign. Mr Kashpirovsky claimed to be independent but was on the LDP's list of candidates.

Anxious to isolate the extreme right-wingers, Russia's Choice is casting around for possible allies, even among Communists, whom the bloc would have spurned before the election disaster. A statement by the main reform group said: 'Fascism will not succeed in Russia if we are united, decisive and consistent in our actions.'

Speculation is mounting that the government, several of whose members lead Russia's Choice, may be reshuffled to appease the Communists. Yesterday the departure of reformist presidential adviser Sergei Stankevich was announced, apparently the first head to roll, but later he said he had gone of his own accord because he felt so miserable about the election result.

Not everyone shares the faith of Russia's Choice that a sensible coalition can be formed. Sergei Shakhrai, a reformer who split from his colleagues and was rewarded with only 6 per cent of the votes for his party, said he feared the new parliament would be deadlocked in another stand-off between reformers and hardliners. 'On the whole, for the next two years (the life of the parliament), the democratic forces will be able to block the most undemocratic decisions but it will be impossible or next to impossible to push forward democratic reforms.'

TALLINN - Leaders of the three Baltic states called yesterday for democrats to join forces to offset the gains by nationalists in the Russian elections and urged Nato to give them a real role in co-operation projects, Reuter reports.

The presidents of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania predicted that the heavy support for the LDP would not affect their independence or talks to secure the departure of Russian troops from their soil. But they were clearly worried by the change in the political climate in Russia.

Letter, page 19

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