Yeltsin takes a tough stance to woo voters

Russian election run-off: Doubts over his health prompt president to step back into limelight

After disappearing from sight on the eve of Russia's presidential election, Boris Yeltsin sought to dispel doubts about his health yesterday with a lengthy interview full of calculated appeals to both nationalist and liberal voters.

The interview, published by the Interfax news agency three days before Wednesday's second round of voting in the presidential elections, was notable for the tough line taken by the President on relations with Nato, the Baltic states and Japan. Warning Nato not to expand its influence over Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, Mr Yeltsin said: "To anyone who has doubts, I want to say that Russia is not going to leave the Baltic, and we will strengthen and develop our military base in Baltiisk [in the Kaliningrad enclave]. Peter the Great did not open a window to Europe and reach the Baltic region just for us to board it up."

He also warned against attempts to change the status of the Turkish-controlled straits joining the Black Sea and the Mediterranean, saying: "Russia will react strongly to attempts to turn the Black Sea into yet another bridgehead for the Nato fleet and non-Black Sea states." In what looked like an overture to nationalist voters in the Russian Far East, he said Russia rejected Japan's claims to the Kurile Islands, occupied by Soviet forces at the end of the Second World War.

He told Interfax that once the election was over he would make his first visit as President to the Kuriles. Such statements, stressing Russia's role as a great power, appeared to be aimed at Russians who voted in the first round last month for Alexander Lebed, the retired general who later received two powerful national security posts in the presidential administration, or for Vladimir Zhirinovsky, the ultra-nationalist.

But Mr Yeltsin also took care to woo supporters of Grigory Yavlinsky, the liberal economist, saying he should play an important part in forming the next government.

The President was last seen in public on 26 June, when he greeted military academy graduates in the Kremlin and toasted them with a glass of vodka. His campaign team attributed his subsequent absences to a busy schedule of speeches and interviews which caused him to lose his voice.

Gennady Zyuganov, his Communist opponent on Wednesday, tried to extract maximum capital from Mr Yeltsin's withdrawal from the public stage. "At 65, after two serious heart attacks, you can't be in good health," he said.

Adding to the atmosphere of pre-election confusion, Mr Lebed announced yesterday that he wanted to recreate the vice-presidency in Russia - a job that Mr Yeltsin abolished in 1993 after its then incumbent, Alexander Rutskoi, participated in an armed uprising against him.

Mr Lebed, who clearly sees himself as Mr Yeltsin's natural successor, said: "We need this post and a person who would assume constitutional powers and take political and even military decisions."

Eleven foreigners were expelled and 28 Russian citizens were arrested on spying charges last year, AP reports. President Yeltsin said that, in 1995, Russia's security services thwarted 67 attempts to pass secret information, presumably to foreign intelligence organisations.

"Eleven agents of foreign intelligence services who had worked under the roofs of their embassies were caught red-handed and ousted from Russia," the President told Interfax.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Life and Style
love + sex A new study has revealed the average size - but does that leave men outside the 'normal' range being thought of as 'abnormal'?
Voices
The Palace of Westminster is falling down, according to John Bercow
voices..says Matthew Norman
Sport
Steve Bruce and Gus Poyet clash
football
Arts and Entertainment
Jake and Dinos Chapman were motivated by revenge to make 'Bring me the Head of Franco Toselli! '
arts + ents Shapero Modern Gallery to show explicit Chapman Brothers film
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Arts and Entertainment
Kurt Cobain performing for 'MTV Unplugged' in New York, shortly before his death
music Brett Morgen's 'Cobain: Montage of Heck' debunks many of the myths surrounding the enigmatic singer
Sport
Brendan Rodgers
football The Liverpool manager will be the first option after Pep Guardiola
Life and Style
life
Sport
Christian Benteke of Aston Villa celebrates scoring the winner for Aston Villa
football
Arts and Entertainment
Myanna Buring, Julian Rhind-Tutt and Russell Tovey in 'Banished'
TV Jimmy McGovern tackles 18th-century crime and punishment
Arts and Entertainment
Paul Whitehouse as Herbert
arts + ents
News
Bill O'Reilly attends The Hollywood Reporter 35 Most Powerful People In Media Celebration at The Four Seasons Restaurant on April 16, 2014 in New York City
media It is the second time he and the channel have clarified statements
News
people
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: Lettings and Sales Negotiator - OTE £46,000

£16000 - £46000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

Recruitment Genius: Home Care Worker - Reading and Surrounding Areas

£9 - £13 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is a great opportunity to join a s...

Recruitment Genius: Key Sales Account Manager - OTE £35,000

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Have you got a proven track rec...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - OTE £40,000

£15000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a great opportunity for...

Day In a Page

Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

Poldark star Heida Reed

'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn