Zyuganov, Worried Bankers Discuss ‘Compromise’ with Yeltsin
MOSCOW (AP) _ Communist presidential candidate Gennady Zyuganov presented himself as a peacemaker today as he met top Russian bankers to discuss their concerns over the economy and the polarized pre-election atmosphere.
The 13 bankers had made a public appeal on Friday, calling on Zyuganov and President Boris Yeltsin to seek a political compromise, saying they feared the heated campaign for the June 16 presidential election could prompt civil war.
No details of today’s meeting were released, but Zyuganov _ whose views have alarmed many Russian business leaders _ appeared intent on presenting himself as receptive.
``I understand their concern, their worries about the fate of the country’s economy,″ Zyuganov told reporters after the meeting. ``We have always been in favor of a dialogue.″
In an open letter Monday, he said he wants a televised meeting with Yeltsin to air their positions and agree on how to ensure civic peace during and after the elections.
Yeltsin’s spokesman, Sergei Medvedev, said today the president was ``very well informed″ about the bankers’ appeal and had met with some of them. Yeltsin was ``waiting for development of an initiative,″ he said.
Polls show Zyuganov and Yeltsin as the main contenders in a close race.
The rhetoric has been strong, with many Communists labeling Yeltsin as a traitor and Yeltsin calling them fanatics who would unleash war in an attempt to restore the Soviet Union.
Alexander Beryozkin, a Communist lawmaker and close Zyuganov ally, said today that Zyuganov’s proposal for a meeting with Yeltsin has been met with ``some degree of understanding.″
He would not say with whom the Communists had spoken.
Viktor Ilyukhin, another top Communist lawmaker who attended the meeting with the bankers, said it was ``very valuable, because any personal meeting and exchange of information helps us gain understanding.″
``We are quite prepared to meet again, as many times as necessary,″ Ilyukhin said.
Meanwhile, another presidential candidate also called for a pre-election peace pact. Retired Gen. Alexander Lebed, a law-and-order conservative, said Monday that all candidates must agree on a formula to prevent bloodshed, including a moratorium on ``igniting ethnic or class hatred.″
Lebed is part of an informal grouping called ``The Third Force,″ along with candidates Grigory Yavlinsky and Svyatoslav Fyodorov. They have been negotiating to unite behind one of them against both Yeltsin and Zyuganov, but it remains unclear whether they can reach such an agreement.