Europeans Watch Cautiously as Rightists’ Vote Count Grows With AM-Russia-Election, Bjt
PRAGUE, Czech Republic (AP) _ Europeans worried as extreme nationalists’ vote totals grew Monday in elections in their giant neighbor, Russia.
While the apparent passage of President Boris Yeltsin’s new constitution gave them something to cheer, early successes of Vladimir Zhirinovsky and his deceptively named Liberal Democrats in parliamentary voting Sunday left them concerned about the nationalists’ apparent growth in power.
Government leaders in Germany, Norway, Sweden and the Baltic states were alarmed, while Serbian nationalist leaders and German rightists were delighted.
Zhirinovsky has capitalized on Russians’ suffering because of economic reform, and has promised to reclaim the lands that broke away when the Soviet Union collapsed. He has also promised to promote the interests of Russians.
In Belgrade, capital of Yugoslavia, Zhirinovsky’s showing was greeted with glee.
″Our man has won in Moscow,″ exulted Vojislav Seselj, leader of Serbia’s ultra-nationalist Radical Party, according to independent Politika TV. And Belgrade TV, controlled by Serbia’s nationalist President Slobodan Milosevic, called the returns ″a big surprise, almost a sensation.″
Serb nationalists have sought support from Russia in the wars that have torn apart former Yugoslavia and are bitter over Yeltsin’s support for international sanctions against Yugoslavia. Zhirinovsky is against the U.N. sanctions.
Gerhard Frey, chairman of the 24,000-strong ultra-right German People’s Union, sent a telegram to Zhirinovsky saying he was ″overjoyed.″
Zhirinovsky and Frey are friends and have appeared at rallies held by each other’s parties. They have a lot in common. Their parties are xenophobic and nationalistic. Like Zhirinovsky, Frey has expansionist visions.
The reaction from official Germany was different.
Foreign Minister Klaus Kinkel said ″...it is not pleasant that extremist powers ... have achieved a high percent of the vote.″
Russian reformists must now band together to protect legal and economic reforms, Kinkel said in a radio interview.
For Prague politicians, the elections may affect their drive to finally break with the old Soviet Bloc and be recognized by the United States and Western Europe as part of the West.
Yeltsin, responding to domestic pressures even before the election, has pressed NATO for a go-slow approach in accepting the Czech Republic and other former Warsaw Pact countries.
The West will have to take a strong nationalist vote in Russia into consideration as it formulates an approach to the Czech Republic, and neighboring Slovakia, Poland and Hungary.
Norwegian Foreign Minister Johan Horgen Holst and Sweden’s Conservative Prime Minister Carl Bildt also expressed concern about the electoral successes of extreme nationalists and Communists.
In the Baltics, leaders were particularly concerned about Zhirinovsky’s goal of expanding Russia’s borders.
″We fear these results. We take them very seriously,″ said Estonian Prime Minister Mart Laar.
The Baltic republics - Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia - gained independence when the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991. Leaders in Latvia and Lithuania expressed similar concerns.
Zhirinovsky seems to have a special ire for them, although his inflammatory oratory also targets Jews, the West, Russian reformers and dark-skinned minorities from the Caucasus Mountains.
The European Community was also wary about the Russian nationalists’ strong showing, but would not cut back its aid and trade with Russia, Belgian Foreign Minister Willy Claes told reporters in Brussels.