Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Yeltsin, Rival Hold Rallies in Russia, May Day Holds Political Tone

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Yeltsin, Rival Hold Rallies in Russia, May Day Holds Political Tone

Article excerpt

May Day festivities Wednesday turned into a duel of political demonstrations with Boris Yeltsin at one rally while a river of communist marchers swept through Moscow in support of Gennady Zyuganov, his main challenger for the presidency.

But there was no violence as there was in Istanbul, Turkey, where three people were killed and 69 injured in a clash between police and the outlawed Revolutionary Peoples' Salvation Party. More than than 50 of the injured were police officers.

Both Zyuganov and Yeltsin predicted victory in the June 16 election.

Trade union officials said tens of thousands of people in Moscow - and as many as 3.5 million nationwide - joined rallies on the traditional workers holiday, usually celebrated by socialists and communists.

But the observances were colored by the election campaign, with workers urging the government to pay back wages, pensioners blasting Yeltsin's free-market reforms and communists vowing to restore the order and benefits of Soviet times.

Yeltsin has pulled nearly even with Zyuganov in the polls.

"We must win the June elections in order to confirm that we have chosen the right path. And we will win," Yeltsin told about 10,000 people in a trade-union march down Tverskaya Street to Moscow's city hall. "Long live the spring of changes Russia has embarked on after long years of lethargy and stagnation!"

About 20,000 supporters nostalgic for communism, many of them elderly, stretched for a mile behind Zyuganov. Medal-draped veterans shuffled with arms linked. Several marchers carried portaits of Vladimir Lenin and Josef Stalin.

A similar pro-communist rally in St. Petersburg also drew 20,000 people.

At a smaller rally, ultranationalist Vladimir Zhirinovsky poked at the war in Chechnya, one of Yeltsin's biggest weaknesses.

In the Belarussian capital of Minsk, a trade union protest for better economic conditions attracted about 20,000 people and about 7,000 nationalists protested the pro-Russian policies of President Alexander Lukashenko. …

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