Yeltsin ally wants election postponed

One of Boris Yeltsin's closest advisers last night warned that Russia could be plunged into violence unless it postpones the forthcoming presidential election, reinforcing speculation that the Kremlin is manoeuvring to call off the contest for fear the President will be thrown out.

Alexander Korzhakov, head of the presidential security service, one of the most powerful men in Mr Yeltsin's inner circle, said more time was needed to allow people to "think calmly", warning that there were "entire regions" in Russia where the "civilised expression of people's will" is impossible. The first round of the election is scheduled for 16 June.

Although he said his remarks were personal, they will be seen as reflecting a broader view in the Kremlin that the elections cannot go ahead because of the risk Mr Yeltsin may lose to the Communist front-runner, Gennady Zyuganov.

"It is inadmissible that Russians again fight Russians," General Korzhakov told the Russian agency, Interfax, "The society is splitting ... the division of souls is dangerous." He urged executives, parliamentary officials and leaders of political parties to take heed.

His remarks follow speculation that the elections may be called off. Just over a week ago, 13 prominent industrialists and bankers published a letter in Russian newspapers calling for the leading political rivals to reach a compromise before a conflict erupted. Mr Zyuganov yesterday told Pravda that Mr Yeltsin's entourage was ready to deny the population their right to vote, but that "people will not put up with this".

There is no doubt many in the Yeltsin administration fear defeat, as they would lose jobs and face prosecution for illegally cashing in on the privatisation process. But postponing the election without the agreement of the Communists would be a huge risk.

Much of the Russian military is already demoralised and disillusioned by the President's handling of the Chechen war. While the 25,000 presidential guards under Mr Khorzhakov's command may defend the Kremlin in the event of unrest, the loyalty of the military is not a foregone conclusion.

General Korzhakov's remarks may have been intended to bolster rumours that the Communists are privately willing to do a deal with the Kremlin in return for policy changes and key posts. On the face of it, the scenario seems unlikely.

The Communists stand a good chance of winning outright. They know hostility to Mr Yeltsin in the regions is huge, and that he lags in the polls. Yet they also know the President controls much of the media, which is showing bias in its coverage, and is pouring money into deprived areas to win votes. In recent weeks, he appears to have narrowed their lead.

In spite of General Korzhakov's wishes, the odds are that the vote will go ahead, as Mr Yeltsin has promised, with a first round in June and a final round in July. A more compelling issue is what will Mr Yeltsin do if the result goes against him. If he loses by a small margin, he would have little difficulty massaging the vote.

It is widely accepted that his administration cooked the vote in the 1993 referendum on the constitution. But a large deficit would be difficult to fix. What would then happen is anybody's guess.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
house + home
Arts and Entertainment
tvGame of Thrones season 5 ep 4, review - WARNING: contains major spoiliers!
Life and Style
Bats detect and react to wind speed and direction through sensors on their wings
Arts and Entertainment
The Ridiculous Six has been produced by Adam Sandler, who also stars in it
filmNew controversy after nine Native American actors walked off set
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksA celebration of British elections
Danny Jones was in the Wales squad for the 2013 World Cup
rugby leagueKeighley Cougars half-back was taken off after just four minutes
Life and Style
The original ZX Spectrum was simple to plug into your TV and get playing on
techThirty years on, the ZX Spectrum is back, after a fashion
Tiger Woods and Lindsey Vonn are breaking up after nearly three years together
peopleFormer couple announce separation in posts on their websites
Life and Style
Google celebrates Bartolomeo Cristofori's 360th birthday
techGoogle Doodle to the rescue
Arts and Entertainment
Haunted looks: Matthew Macfadyen and Timothy Spall star in ‘The Enfield Haunting’
tvThe Enfield Haunting, TV review
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Digital Marketing Consultant

£28000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Digital Marketing Cons...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Stores Keeper

£16640 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Assistant Stores Keeper is r...

Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

£16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developer - C# / ASP.NET / SQL

£17000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Developer required to join a bu...

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living