Russia Reformer Chubais Joins Yeltsin’s Re-Election Team
MOSCOW (AP) _ Saying a Communist victory in June would mean ``bloodshed,″ a top Russian reformer on Thursday endorsed President Boris Yeltsin’s bid for a second term.
Anatoly Chubais, fired by Yeltsin as the nation’s economic reform chief this year, said he’s joined the president’s campaign.
``My main goal is not to allow (Communist frontrunner Gennady) Zyuganov to become president of Russia,″ he said. ``The only way of reaching this goal is to support President Yeltsin.″
A Communist victory, Chubais said, would lead to ``big bloodshed.″
Chubais said he sees more of Yeltsin now that he’s involved in the campaign than when he was first deputy prime minister. And since he doesn’t want a job in a future administration, Chubais said he’s free to be as frank as he likes.
``I will tell Yeltsin the truth. That will be one of my major roles in the campaign,″ Chubais said.
Russia’s Choice, the pro-reform party of which Chubais is a leading member, remains split on whether to back Yeltsin.
Asked about the 65-year-old president’s health, Chubais said, ``he’s in really good shape.″ Yeltsin was hospitalized for heart trouble twice last year, raising questions about his ability to survive another term.
Chubais conceded that ``it would be reasonable for Yeltsin to have someone as a backup″ candidate, but said Yeltsin rejected the idea.
He praised Yeltsin’s government for keeping economic policy on track despite pressure to increase government spending ahead of the June 16 election.
Chubais also noted a recent reshuffling at the top of the campaign staff should help Yeltsin regain the initiative from Zyuganov.
Removing bureaucrat Oleg Soskovets from the helm in favor of Yeltsin aide Viktor Ilyushin will revitalize the campaign, Chubais said, noting that he had been a major advocate of the shift.
Among the initiatives the new team is planning is a major push to build support in Russia’s far-flung regions, Chubais said.