George Soros ["It Isn't Enough to Shed Communism," op-ed, Nov. 23] says that Boris Yeltsin used "strong-arm tactics" to "silence the opposition" in his 1996 campaign.

This is false. The Communist-dominated "popular-patriotic" opposition and its candidate, the chairman of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation, Gennady Zyuganov, had at their disposal several national opposition newspapers with a combined press run of more than 10 million and 150 pro-communist local newspapers and magazines--all published freely. In addition, Mr. Zyuganov's electoral platform was disseminated door to door.

Mr. Zhuganov crisscrossed Russia tirelessly. At each campaign stop, he was met at the train stations by crowds of supporters and by local dignitaries, including the Communist deputies in the national Duma. Mr. Zyuganov toured the region's factories and held press conferences. His rallies, usually held in large auditoriums, were attended by hundreds of thousands. Not a single incident of intimidation or censorship by the Kremlin was reported in the national Communist newspapers, and none was noted in Mr. Zyuganov's concession statement on July 4.

Like the other nine candidates, Mr. Zyuganov was entitled to a free hour-and-a-half of prime-time on the three government-owned national television channels and two hours on the four state-run national radio stations.

The absence of intimidation and censorship in the Russian presidential campaign was clear to anyone who so much as glanced at its coverage in the U.S. newspapers--let alone Russian ones--between January and July 1996.



The writer is a resident scholar and director of Russian studies at the American Enterprise Institute.