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    Yeltsin Wins Landslide Victory in Moscow

    By David Remnick
    Washington Post Foreign Service
    Tuesday, March 28, 1989; Page A01

    MOSCOW, MARCH 27 -- In the most stunning display of dissatisfaction with Communist Party rule since the founding of the Soviet state, dozens of independent and reform-minded candidates defeated party regulars in Sunday's multicandidate elections for the country's revamped national legislature.

    From Sakhalin Island in the Soviet Far East to the Baltic republics 12 time zones to the west, voters with a choice between party apparatchiks and advocates of reform almost invariably chose the reformists, according to returns tallied today.

    One of the apparent victims of the reformist surge, according to journalists in Leningrad, was Yuri Solovyov, party chief of the Leningrad region and a nonvoting member of the ruling Communist Party Politburo. Solovyov ran unopposed, but voters in a single-candidate race have the option to accept or reject the candidate.

    For the party leadership, the most disturbing result may be the victory of ousted Moscow party chief and former Politburo member Boris Yeltsin, who won 89 percent of the vote in the Moscow territorial race against his party-backed opponent, the director of a limousine factory.

    Yeltsin's victory -- by a margin of 5,118,745 to 392,633 -- is also a blow to at least two conservative Politburo members who have tried to undermine him -- agriculture chief Yegor Ligachev and the man who succeeded Yeltsin as Moscow party leader, Lev Zaikov. In another race, Zaikov's deputy, Yuri Prokofiev, was defeated.

    "The apparat wouldn't give me my rehabilitation, but the people did," Yeltsin said today, referring to the bureaucracy of nearly 15 million Communist Party workers who dominate almost every aspect of official life here. After his ouster from the Kremlin hierarchy in November 1987, Yeltsin apologized for any political transgressions and asked the party to forgive him. Party leaders refused, and many have been trying to discredit him ever since.

    The list of losers is startling. They include the commander in chief of the Moscow regional armed forces, the chairman of the Moscow city council, the prime minister of Lithuania, the chief of the Estonian KGB, the admiral of the northern fleet and the commander of Soviet forces in East Germany.

    Perhaps two of the most humiliating defeats for the party came in the Ukrainian capital of Kiev, where Mayor Valentin Zgursky and the city's party chief, Konstantin Masik, ran unopposed but lost anyway, because a majority of voters marked their ballots "no." New elections will be held there.

    In a country that has gone more than decades without popular opinion polls and multicandidate ballots, the election results went a long way toward showing public impatience, especially with the most conservative segments of the Communist Party.

    "The apparat is surely weaker today, and it is all a very sobering day for the Communist Party and for {Soviet President} Mikhail Gorbachev," said dissident historian Roy Medvedev, who led all six candidates in his race in Moscow's Vorshilovski district with 35 percent of the vote. He must now take part in a runoff election against factory manager Kseniya Razumova.

    Yeltsin and Medvedev agreed that the election results may put pressure on Gorbachev to increase the pace of reform. In an impromptu talk with journalists after casting his vote Sunday, Gorbachev said, "Soviet man has spoken up . . . and even if not everyone is pleased by the outcome of the elections -- well, there is nothing that can be done about it."

    Although it was Gorbachev himself who introduced political reforms, the Communist Party did not meekly yield the field to reformists. In the case of Yeltsin, Medvedev and human rights activist Andrei Sakharov, for example, party conservatives used every measure they could -- rule changes, harsh publicity, denunciations -- to defeat them.

    "They had money and power, and all I had was my good name," said Medvedev, as he sat in his home today with his two-man "election team," plotting strategy for the runoff.

    Medvedev, who as recently as five years ago had a KGB guard stationed outside his door, said that the election process and rules were "really only about 10 percent democratic" and that he hoped "next time there will be no one-man races, not 20 or 25 percent like this time."

    Ballots are still being counted in many parts of the country, but it is clear -- in the Baltics, especially -- that reform-minded candidates with grass-roots support were making impressive showings.

    Candidates backed by the independent Estonian Popular Front won 25 of 36 seats at stake in the new Congress of People's Deputies, with the republic's party chief and president winning 90 percent of the vote in their races, largely because they had the front's support. Candidates backed by Latvia's Popular Front won 25 of 29 races, while in Lithuania, candidates backed by the independent mass movement Sajudis won at least 32 of the republic's 42 seats.

    "There is a lot of champagne being drunk in the Baltics tonight," said Andres Raid, a commentator on Estonian television.

    Spokesmen for independent groups in the Baltics said they hope that their delegates and other reform legislators from Moscow and elsewhere will form a strong voting bloc when the new People's Congress convenes. In the past, the Soviet legislature did little more than unanimously approve the decisions of the Communist Party leadership, but Gorbachev has promised to give far greater power to the new congress.

    Some individual election victories were seen as direct rebukes to regional party organizations that have so far steadfastly resisted Gorbachev's reforms. In the Ukrainian city of Zhitomir, Alla Yaroshinskaya, a young nonparty journalist who infuriated local officials with her critical articles on housing, defeated four party members. Party officials had initially refused to allow her nomination despite her backing by thousands of supporters.

    In the city of Lvov, where independent groups such as the Lion Society and the Ukrainian Helsinki Association urged voters to ignore all candidates and write the word "boycott" on their ballots, two of the three city races ended with no candidate winning a majority.

    In Leningrad, which has been dominated by a conservative party apparatus, the secretary of the city's party committee, Anatoli Gerasimov, won only 15 percent of the vote, losing to shipyard worker Yuri Boldyrev.

    © Copyright 1989 The Washington Post Company

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