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Moscow Official Says He Felt Voters’ Wrath

April 5, 1989

MOSCOW (AP) _ A Moscow official trounced in multiple-candidate elections acknowledged he and other party and government officials lost because voters are unhappy that economic reforms have not improved their lives.

Moscow party Second Secretary Yuri Prokofiev said in an interview published Wednesday that he lost his bid for a seat in a new parliament because voters blamed him for urban problems and the failure of national economic reforms to improve their standard of living.

″My rivals did not have to answer any questions about the situation in the country, the city, the district. I got such questions by the dozen,″ he told the weekly Moscow News.

Prokofiev said he had been in his job for just a half-year and that much of the criticism of the slow implementation of President Mikhail S. Gorbachev’s program of perestroika, or overhaul of Soviet society, was unjustly leveled at him.

″Perestroika has been continuing already four years,″ the Moscow official said. ″People want to see real changes. There are some - in thinking, in culture, in foreign policy and in that the people awoke to active political life.

″But if you’re speaking about economics, then no radical changes have occurred yet. People, more than anything, react to changes in their standard of living. So I can understand their critical mood.″

Gorbachev said last week that party and government leaders lost in the March 26 elections because people were fed up with mismanagement. He said the losers had been ″restructuring slowly and not expanding ties with workers.″

The elections brought humiliating rejection for many top party officials in Moscow, Leningrad, Kiev and elsewhere, including some who were running unopposed. Candidates had to receive approval from more than 50 percent of the voters to win.

Prokofiev won just 13.5 percent of the vote in the elections to the new 2,250-member Congress of Peoples Deputies. His opponent, Alexander Kazamarov, a construction official, won 52.1 percent.

In the interview, Prokofiev said government and party leaders won’t win popular support until their promises of better living conditions are fulfilled.

″Until the situation in the city is changed, its leaders cannot count on (election) success,″ Prokofiev said.

Many reforms haven’t reached the people, he said, because bureaucrats are ″old and work in the old way.″

Also Wednesday, the Communist Party daily Pravda reported voters chose party members for 88 percent of the parliament seats that have been filled so far.

About 80 percent of candidates running in the first multicandidate elections in 70 years were party members.

Pravda said final results showed that voters declined to elect a candidate in one out of every eight parliamentary districts, even though they had a choice of only one or two candidates.

That means that in 195 of the 1,500 geographical districts nationwide, and in three others in which less than 50 percent of the electorate voted, new campaigns will start for a second election to be held May 14.

Runoff elections will be held Sunday in 76 districts for seats in which no candidate received a majority.

Moscow News gave the results of nominations for representatives of the Academy of Sciences in the new parliament. The academy, other officially sanctioned organizations and the Communist Party selected 750 seats.

The newspaper said that of the nominees for the 12 unfilled academy seats, human rights activist Andrei D. Sakharov had received the most support. Sakharov received support from 62 institutes under the academy’s umbrella in Moscow and Leningrad; 59 were for space scientist Roald Sagdeyev; and 57 backed economist Nikolai Shmelev.

Those three had been rejected in January by the academy’s leadership, but its members pushed through their names last month, rejecting 15 officially favored candidates.

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