Russians Optimistic About Clinton; Lawmakers Approve START Treaty With AM-Soviet-START
MOSCOW (AP) _ Ordinary Russians greeted Bill Clinton’s victory with optimism Wednesday, while lawmakers gave the American president-elect reason to be rosy about U.S.-Russian ties by approving a nuclear arms reduction treaty.
President Boris Yeltsin said he hoped the United States and Russia would be able to forge a stronger partnership. Many Russians, accustomed to viewing older leaders with suspicion, hailed Clinton’s youth.
Alexei Ulyukayev, a top economic advisor to Yeltsin, said that he once suspected a Clinton victory would lead to isolationism, but now feels ″the Democrats will be able to act more freely in international areas than the Republicans.″
Speaking to The Associated Press in Berlin, Ulukayev pointed to Russia’s need for U.S. help in postponing payments on its $71 billion foreign debt, but said Russian manufacturers’ access to American markets was ″much more important for us.″
Russia’s Supreme Soviet voted 157-1 to ratify the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, which was signed by President Bush and former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev in 1991. Hard-liners said the vote was an unwarranted gift to Clinton.
″Some people want to present it on a silver platter to the U.S. president- elect,″ said legislator Vitaly Sevastyanov.
Generally, however, people interviewed in central Moscow were glad that a younger man would be at the helm of Russia’s former nemesis. Clinton is 46, Bush 68.
″It’s the time of young people,″ said army Col. Mikhail Reznikov, who was shopping for food with a fellow officer, ″because they are much more flexible. They look at all things. Without doubt, it’s much, much better.″
Gorbachev called Clinton a ″natural leader, born after World War II, and he represents the new, younger people.″
In the Ukrainian capital of Kiev, historian Danyl Yenevsky welcomed the election of a ″Beatles epoch″ leader. Ukrainian Prime Minister Leonid Kuchma also praised Clinton’s youth and made a swipe at Bush.
″I hope that we will have more fruitful relations with the U.S.A. as, so far, apart from advice, we have not had anything,″ Kuchma said.
Ukrainian opposition activist Serhiy Odarich confessed to ″a gut reaction against old politicians″ because of the succession of geriatric general secretaries who had led the Soviet Union.
But in St. Petersburg, the head of the city council’s press service said many Russians were sorry to see Bush defeated.
″In Russia we’re afraid of change,″ Alexander Varetin said. ″We never like to see a leader fall and a new one rise. Usually it just means new trouble, some crazy new policy and people suffering.″