Get the latest updates as we post them — right on your browser

. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Pro-Yeltsin Banners Irk Council

Banners strung across central Moscow's main thoroughfares encouraging Muscovites to vote for President Boris Yeltsin in the coming April 25 referendum have caused outrage in the capital's City Council.

The ten banners - with slogans like "Referendum: Yes! " - were mounted over such prominent streets as Ulitsa Tverskaya while the last session of the Congress of People's Deputies was still in session, voting on whether or not to impeach the president.

According to Guram Gurguladze, spokesman for Mayor Yury Luzhkov, they were approved by the Moscow City Mayor's Office.

But Alexander Popov, spokesman for Mossoviet, the city's legislature, said the banners have no business on Moscow's streets.

"I don't know who allowed these banners", said Popov. "They are bad because there are none from the opposition. I do not want to see propaganda on the streets of Moscow".

The April 25 referendum is intended to end the power struggle between Yeltsin and the Congress of People's Deputies, the legislative body that narrowly failed to impeach Yeltsin.

Moscow's authorities are gripped in a similar conflict - between Mayor Luzhkov and the Mossoviet - and have consequently chosen sides in the larger, all-Russian, power struggle.

The mayor's office approved the banners after getting a request from the Public Committee for Reforms in Russia, a coalition of about 85 pro-Yeltsin political parties, groups and trade unions, Gurguladze said.

"I don't mind if other political organizations ask us to install other banners in different places", Gurguladze said. "We're ready to give our approval to all political parties here".

The banners, such as "Peoples

Deputies - Do Not Stop The People From Making Their Choice", were created by City Design Enterprise, a private advertising company that has an exclusive contract to create banners for the city for holidays and special event, Gurguladze said.

City Design's banners were installed between March 25 and 27 and included two that encouraged Russians to attend the March 28 pro-Yeltsin demonstration outside the Congress.

Anatoly Gusev, deputy director of City Design, said the banners cost about 800, 000 rubles ($1150. ) He added that the city did not charge City Design for the right to install the banners and refused to say who would pay for the banners.

Lyudmila Stepankova, a leader of the Public Committee for Reforms in Russia, who organized the banner project, said she has no idea how much the banners cost and has not received a bill from City Design.

Stepankova also said the pro-Yeltsin coalition does not have 800, 000 rubles to pay for the banners. "We'll try to find sponsors and send invoices to them", she said.