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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Zyuganov Denies Losing Election Lead to Yeltsin

Communist Party leader Gennady Zyuganov dismissed indications that he has lost his lead in the election race to President Boris Yeltsin on Tuesday, claiming that Russia's political opinion polls are notoriously inaccurate.

A poll commissioned by The Moscow Times and CNN, whose results were reported Tuesday, indicated that Yeltsin's popularity shot up 6.7 percentage points to 20.7 over the last month, overtaking Zyuganov, whose support rose less than a point to 19.8 percent.

Zyuganov said Tuesday that he knew of polls in which only 8 percent of respondents supported Yeltsin, and added that as a "scientist and specialist" on such matters he considered polls with a margin of error as low as 2 percentage points to be "not very reliable."

To illustrate his point, Zyuganov repeated his claim, made Sunday on NTV's "Itogi" news program, that he possessed "excerpts" of a poll taken before the 1993 elections showing Yegor Gaidar's popularity soaring above 60 percent. "In reality his rating turned out to be four times less," he said Tuesday.

But when the "Itogi" host, Yevgeny Kiselyov, countered that no such poll existed, and that Gaidar's ratings had never risen so high, Zyuganov backpedalled, saying, "Well, at least that's what I heard. I trust in rumors."

Zyuganov, who met over the weekend with U.S. President Bill Clinton and other leaders of the Group of Seven leading industrialized nations in Moscow for a summit on nuclear security and safety, hailed the results of the meeting, calling nuclear safety an issue of "paramount importance for all countries and for the planet as a whole."

Zyuganov also stated he could speak on nuclear issues with authority, "as a person who has worked with radioactive isotopes, elements, radioactive dust and toxic agents on a daily basis." A Communist Party spokesman declined to comment on this revelation Tuesday.

When asked to assess the threat of nuclear smuggling in Russia, a major theme at the summit, Zyuganov indirectly criticized the Yeltsin government for allowing security at the country's nuclear facilities to deteriorate. Zyuganov said he had met with security chiefs at Russia's nuclear facilities, "because the irresponsibility which has crept into every pore of the state is penetrating these structures as well."

"We would like to see all necessary measures taken to ensure complete safety and rule out leaks of such materials," Zyuganov said.

Turning to the elections, the Communist leader said a bloc of more than 200 parties and movements representing "the broadest spectrum of interests" backed his candidacy.

-- a coalition that delivered some 22 million votes in parliamentary elections last December.

"If we add a little to the votes backing us in December, we have the possibility not only to clear the first round of the presidential elections successfully, but there's also a chance we could prevail in the first round," Zyuganov said, adding that his bloc was conducting negotiations with politicians from across the spectrum. But he ruled out a rumored coalition with ultranationalist Vladimir Zhirinovsky.