Letter: Russians vote with the heart not the head

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The Independent Online
Sir: In response to your leading article "If Russia turns back the clock, everyone loses" (12 June), I agree with you that when given the choice people do not always choose wisely. Like all people, and perhaps to a greater extent than others, Russians are guided more by emotions than by reason.

The sensible person will calculate that the only way to avert an even deeper crisis and the Communist takeover is to vote for Boris Yeltsin. The emotional one will be unable to "choose wisely" because his or her heart is burning with sorrow for the losers of badly conducted economic reforms and the victims of the Chechen tragedy. He or she feels that Russia deserves a better president who will be able to solve the pressing internal problems and to improve Russia's standing abroad.

You criticise Yeltsin's government but conclude that, on balance, Gennady Zyuganov, the Communist leader, will cause more damage if elected. That is what common sense tells the reasonable person. But for better or worse, the majority of Russians listen to their hearts more than to common sense.

Zyuganov promises to eliminate poverty and unemployment and injustice. He speaks of equality and the sense of community and social justice. Many people support him not because of but despite his "nostalgia for the Soviet Union". He speaks of national grandeur and people applaud him not because they want to "turn back the clock" and restore Russian influence over half of the continent but because their national pride is hurt by the humiliation they feel Russia faces from the West.

Your fear that Russia will turn Communist again is not unfounded but there is no reason to be pessimistic about the future. The Communist rule will not last long. Soon the emotional person will realise that Zyuganov cannot solve our economic problems - not to mention political - and will rebel again. Russia will turn liberal, and everyone will benefit.

BARBARA DANILINA

E-mail: danilina@coventry.ac.uk

The writer is a student at Moscow university

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