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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Yeltsin: Russia Needs Strong Law, Not Force

President Boris Yeltsin accused his communist and nationalist rivals Wednesday of plans to ruin democracy and said only his re-election could save Russia from a return to totalitarian rule.


He told a conference on legal reform that Russia's legal system should be strengthened to protect people's rights and meet their aspiration for rule by law instead of force.


"I intend to win the presidential election to make sure that the terror of arbitrary rule, lawlessness and mass repressions never takes place again," he said. "We must make the laws defend the weak, make strong people responsible, determine a reasonable balance between freedom and justice."


Yeltsin, who started out on his pre-election campaign by portraying himself as a non-party national leader and avoiding association with any liberal or conservative party, strongly attacked the Communist Party, his likely key rival at the June 16 polls.


In his Wednesday speech Yeltsin drew a grim picture of a possible communist win. "The country will receive an all-powerful leader shielded by the so-called 'collective leadership,'" he said. "Irresponsible Soviets will sit again, run by party committees ... The economy will be directed by bureaucrats from their offices."


Of the nationalists, Yeltsin said: "Some want to turn Russia into a police state. Such regimes have managed to establish order, provide quiet and prosperous life for people. But everyone knows the price of this order and prosperity."


Yeltsin admitted that in the five years of post-Soviet Russia laws were generally neglected by people. He blamed poor quality, contradictory leglislation: "This makes it difficult to carry out laws, feeds abuse of power and corruption among the officials."