Russian villages to vote for past -- or present
July 3, 1996
Web posted at: 12:30 p.m. EDT (1630 GMT)
From Correspondent Bill Delaney
MOLOKOVO, Russia (CNN) -- In Russia's villages, where a third of the population lives, choices in the presidential runoff election can be determined using a rather simple test: How much they miss or dismiss the past.
In the village of Molokovo, the choices for president seem almost evenly split between incumbent Boris Yeltsin and Communist rival Gennady Zyuganov.
"They promised reforms,instead we got the destruction of Russia. Everything ground to a halt, and we have nothing."
Mikhail Alexevich and Fyodor Ivanovich are both Russians grounded in the same rural reality. They live and toil in the same village, but their political opinions differ vastly.
Alexevich at 71 is a hard-core Communist. Ivanovich, 70, lives just down the road from Alexevich, but he is only too glad that Communism is over.
Alexevich says he is totally opposed to the changes wrought during Yeltsin's tenure. "They promised reforms," he said. "Instead we got the destruction of Russia. Everything ground to a halt, and we have nothing."
He says he will vote for any Communist, Zyuganov included.
Ivanovich remembers the past, too, but less favorably. "What matters now is how hard you work," he said. "Nothing else matters -- no matter who wins."
He says he wasn't planning to vote initially, but finally yielded after some coaxing from his neighbors. His choice: Yeltsin.
"What matters now is how hard you work, nothing else matters -- no matter who wins."
Yeltsin has another supporter in villager Vasily Alexandrovich, who says he has never felt so liberated as he has in the last four years.
Ultimately, choices in these elections promise to rest on whether people, tired of painful reforms, want to revisit a known past or march forward to an uncertain future.
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