Yeltsin warns on terror of the past

Russian elections: Worried leader tries to see off Communists as Chechnya deals another blow to his regime

PHIL REEVES

Moscow

CARLOTTA GALL

Grozny

A worried Boris Yeltsin made a last-minute effort last night to head off predicted Communist gains in tomorrow's Russian parliamentary elections. In a national television address to fellow Russians, he begged them not to allow the "forces of the past to come to power", but to preserve the nation's "fragile stability".

Yet as he sought to claw back support from a disillusioned public, Russia received another unpleasant reminder of his regime's disastrous war in Chechnya, where fighting continued for a second day and rebels took control of another town.

Looking relatively fit after his recent heart attack, Mr Yeltsin told viewers that some of the 43 parties fighting for seats in the State Duma, or lower house, harboured the "dangerous" desire to return to the past, but it would be a "tragic" mistake - a reference to the Communist Party which is predicted to come first, taking at least 15 per cent of the vote.

"Neither centralised planning nor strict regulation of prices can bring salvation," he said, "The economy never worked well on commands. It cannot be improved by a general's order. I am well aware of the scale of the problems ... but we are nevertheless moving to a quieter, normal and decent life."

Until last night the president, who is convalescing after heart trouble, has remained largely aloof from the election campaign. He did not specifically name any party, but made clear his support for the government-backed centrist party, Our Home Is Russia, led by the Prime Minister, Viktor Chernomyrdin, by intoning one of their slogans - calling for "stability and accord in our common home, Russia".

In an effort to shake many Russians out of what seems to be political torpor, he appealed to younger voters, amid fears that many will not vote. "You must not allow the country to be returned to the times when people were told how to dress, how to wear their hair and which songs to sing." And he appealed to the elderly, warning them against a return to the terror of the Soviet Union.

His speech coincided with attempts to curry up votes by the Kremlin, which will be alarmed by evidence that Our Home is lagging behind both the Communists and, in some areas, hard-line nationalists like Vladimir Zhirinovksy. Mr Zhirinovsky, who appears to have made some late gains, ended his campaign with a tirade against the West: "While you were chewing gum and eating Snickers bars, we were conquering space."

The government released figures showing that inflation this month was running at around 3 per cent, the lowest since economic reforms began. Rather more unconvincingly, the presidential envoy to Chechnya, Oleg Lobov, claimed that elections there were proceeding successfully, and that turnout was above the required 25 per cent threshold.

In Chechnya itself, where three days of voting began on Thursday, this appeared to be far from the case. Chechen fighters, who have vowed to disrupt the poll, seized control of the town of Urus-Martan, 20 miles south of Grozny, and fighting continued in the republic's second largest city, Gudermes, where at least 30 Russian soldiers have died, according to Russians on the scene.

As the landscape echoed with the din of tank shells and Grad missiles, Russians looked on in some bewilderment. One soldier surveying the chaos complained that the army was not allowed to use its full force. "And we, meantime, are cannon fodder."

News
Susan Sarandon described David Bowie as
peopleSusan Sarandon reveals more on her David Bowie romance
Sport
Arsenal supporters gather for a recent ‘fan party’ in New Jersey
football
News
i100
Sport
sportDidier Drogba returns to Chelsea on one-year deal
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Arts and Entertainment
The Secret Cinema performance of Back to the Future has been cancelled again
film
Life and Style
Balmain's autumn/winter 2014 campaign, shot by Mario Sorrenti and featuring Binx Walton, Cara Delevingne, Jourdan Dunn, Ysaunny Brito, Issa Lish and Kayla Scott
fashionHow Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Christian Grey cradles Ana in the Fifty Shades of Grey film
filmFifty Shades of Grey trailer provokes moral outrage in US
News
people
News
BBC broadcaster and presenter Evan Davis, who will be taking over from Jeremy Paxman on Newsnight
peopleForget Paxman - what will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
Life and Style
fashionCustomer complained about the visibly protruding ribs
News
newsComedy club forced to apologise as maggots eating a dead pigeon fall out of air-conditioning
Arts and Entertainment
Jo Brand says she's mellowed a lot
tvJo Brand says shows encourage people to laugh at the vulnerable
Life and Style
People may feel that they're procrastinating by watching TV in the evening
life
News
Tovey says of homeless charity the Pillion Trust : 'If it weren't for them and the park attendant I wouldn't be here today.'
people
Sport
Rhys Williams
commonwealth games
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
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

Employment Solicitor

Highly Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: MANCHESTER - Senior Employment Solici...

Senior Risk Manager - Banking - London - £650

£600 - £650 per day: Orgtel: Conduct Risk Liaison Manager - Banking - London -...

Commercial Litigation Associate

Highly Attractive Package: Austen Lloyd: CITY - COMMERCIAL LITIGATION - GLOBAL...

Systems Manager - Dynamics AX

£65000 - £75000 per annum + Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: The client is a...

Day In a Page

Evan Davis: The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing to take over at Newsnight

The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing

What will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
Finding the names for America’s shame: What happens to the immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert?

Finding the names for America’s shame

The immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert
Inside a church for Born Again Christians: Speaking to God in a Manchester multiplex

Inside a church for Born Again Christians

As Britain's Anglican church struggles to establish its modern identity, one branch of Christianity is booming
Rihanna, Kim Kardashian and me: How Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Parisian couturier Pierre Balmain made his name dressing the mid-century jet set. Today, Olivier Rousteing – heir to the house Pierre built – is celebrating their 21st-century equivalents. The result? Nothing short of Balmania
Cancer, cardiac arrest, HIV and homelessness - and he's only 39

Incredible survival story of David Tovey

Tovey went from cooking for the Queen to rifling through bins for his supper. His is a startling story of endurance against the odds – and of a social safety net failing at every turn
Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little