The U.S. State Department reacted to news of Boris Yeltsin’s re-election bid yesterday with a pledge to support democratic reform in Russia and with a rebuff to Russian Communists and nationalists. While declaring that the United States would not "intrude" on the electoral process or declare its "support for any party or any candidate," State Department spokesman Nicholas Burns said that Washington believed "the Russian people and Russia’s relations with the…world will be better off if reformers stay in power." He continued, "We don’t think that Mr. Zhirinovsky’s party or the Communist party represent a future that is democratic or reform-oriented." While Burns refused to speculate on how Washington would react if Communist party leader Gennady Zyuganov were elected president this spring, an unnamed White House official insisted that Washington would continue to "work with [Russia’s] democratically elected leadership on the basis of their policies."
Without naming Yeltsin, Burns did say that the U.S. administration favors the coalescence of Russia’s various reform parties around one candidate. He also expressed Washington’s displeasure over what he said was the Communist party’s platform to re-establish the Soviet Union. (4) Burns’s remarks suggest that the Clinton administration is trying to sidestep charges at home that it has focused U.S. policy too exclusively on Boris Yeltsin while simultaneously attempting not to compromise Yeltsin in Russia by appearing to interfere in the election on his behalf.
Yeltsin Slams Defense Minister.