For all their public enthusiasm, however, world leaders also evidenced concern over both Yeltsin’s suspect health and the growing influence within the Kremlin of strongman Aleksandr Lebed. On the first count, a top Japanese government spokesman said yesterday that "all countries are paying close attention" to Yeltsin’s health and that, in the wake of Yeltsin’s most recent public appearances, there is "reason to worry." U.S. officials were said to be thinking in similar terms, and some reportedly wondered when Yeltsin would choose to have the heart bypass operation that he seems to need. (The New York Times, Reuter, July 4)
Enthusiasm over Yeltsin’s victory was reported to be more guarded in Eastern Europe, where potential shifts in Kremlin policies take on added significance. Hungary’s parliamentary chairman Matyas Eorsi summed up the positive side of the election, observing that although Yeltsin is "not a model for democracy," he "represents much more stability than Zyuganov." But the head of the Polish parliament’s foreign relations committee, Bronislaw Geremek, warned that Yeltsin’s debt to Lebed, the Russian president’s ailing health, and the Communist party’s 40 percent election vote could, in combination, increase the Kremlin’s accent on big-power politics and reactivate imperialist traditions. (Reuter, July 4)
Although Chinese leaders sent warm messages of congratulations to Yeltsin following his victory (Xinhua, July 4),analysts suggested that political leaders in two other lonely outposts of communism — Cuba and North Korea — probably looked upon the election results with some ambivalence. Despite recently warming ties between Moscow and Havana, Cuban leaders declined comment on Yeltsin’s victory, saying only that they expected bilateral relations to continue to improve. Some newspapers in Cuba also emphasized that, despite their defeat, Russia’s Communists retained substantial influence as the nation’s second most potent political force. (Reuter, July 4)
Zyuganov Concedes, Calls for Coalition Government.