Aleksandr Lebed says the ground is being prepared for an annulment of the May 17 election for governor of Krasnoyarsk Krai in the event that he, Lebed, emerges the winner. Speaking on national television on May 10, Lebed accused his rival for the post, incumbent Governor Valery Zubov, of providing material for the Commission for Counteracting Political Extremism, which is headed by Interior Minister Sergei Stepashin, with the necessary ammunition for an annulment. (NTV, May 10; Itar-Tass, May 11) The chairman of Russia’s Central Electoral Commission, Aleksandr Ivanchenko, has already asserted serious violations of electoral regulations prior to the first round of the elections on April 26. Lebed emerged from that first round with 45 percent of the vote. Zubov came second with 35 percent, and the communist candidate, Petr Romanov, got 13 percent. (Radio Russia, April 28)
Also taking the threat of annulment seriously is Yelena Bonner, widow of Andrei Sakharov. Bonner told a television interviewer over the weekend that the election is likely to be annulled if Lebed wins the second round. She warned that, if this happens, it will have a disastrous effect on Russia’s fledgling democracy. (ORT, May 9)
Incumbent Governor Zubov is mounting a strong counterattack. In line with election legislation, Zubov took a “vacation” at the beginning of the campaign and handed his responsibilities over to a deputy. After the first round, however, Zubov resumed his gubernatorial functions. In that capacity, he issued an open appeal to President Yeltsin, demanding that the federal government pay krai workers what he said were massive wage arrears. Otherwise, Zubov declared, he would block payment taxes to the center and the krai would, effectively, leave the jurisdiction of the Russian Federation. Next, Zubov declared that he was reforming the krai government into a “government of national trust” with strong communist representation. Heading the new team will be Pavel Fedirko, who governed the krai as Communist Party boss for sixteen years in the Soviet period. (RIA news agency, May 11) The reason for the reformist Zubov’s sudden decision to embrace the opposition is that, if he is to win in the second round, he must attract the votes of those who voted for the communist candidate in the first. Whether voters will fall for this rather transparent ruse will be seen on May 17. At first, the local Communist Party organization called on voters to vote against both Zubov and Lebed in the second round. They were later overruled from Moscow by the central party leadership, which sees Lebed as a serious potential challenge to their own position.
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