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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Zyuganov Urges Calm In Rhetoric

Russia's Communist leader urged his followers Monday to avoid "scary words'' and present a more moderate image to voters to combat the red-scare tactics of President Boris Yeltsin.


Yeltsin's team has tried to scare people away from the Communists by telling them that Gennady Zyuganov will take away their freedoms and private property if he wins next month's election.


The theme seems to be hitting home, with polls released over the weekend showing Yeltsin continuing to pull ahead of Zyuganov.


Zyuganov met Monday with groups allied with his Communist Party and advised supporters "to be more particular about what they say and not to use any scary words,'' Itar-Tass quoted him as saying.


He called on them to make clear that the Communists stand for a mixed system of property ownership and "no one will take anything away from anyone.''


At the same meeting, the leader of a hard-line communist group asked Zyuganov to show more zeal in campaigning for the nationalization of banks and make it clear that only the Central Bank will operate under a Communist government.


"We are not beasts, we shall shoot at no one,'' Viktor Anpilov said, according to Interfax. "Let the present bankers work for the Central Bank. Those who don't want to should go and work in factories.''


Zyuganov has been vague on where he stands on economic issues and has failed to release a long-promised program.


He has presented himself as a social democrat and a moderate when speaking to businessmen and Westerners, but before the party rank-and-file he has spoken like a true hardline Communist believer.


Meanwhile, there were signs of change within the Communist Party. At a closed-door plenum over the weekend, Gennady Seleznyov, the speaker of parliament and one of the party's best-known officials, was dismissed from one party post and elected to another.


A Communist official on Monday described Seleznyov's move from Central Committee secretary to presidium member as a promotion. That might represent an effort to present a more moderate face in the party leadership. But some media reports speculated that the change indicates a party power struggle.


Yeltsin's campaign, meanwhile, continued to pound home its message.


A Yeltsin radio ad featured a star athlete and a famous actress painting a grim picture of life behind a new Iron Curtain if the Communists return to power.


Alexander Tikhonov, a four-time Olympic champion in biathlon, acknowledged during Yeltsin's allotted 10-minute slot on Radio Russia that the president has made mistakes, but, "As any real Russian man, he has the right to make them.''


He said that if the Communists win, they will again confiscate private property and the country will be thrown backward. "Russia can hardly survive this,'' said the retired athlete, who now runs bakeries.


Elina Bystrytskaya, a well-known actress, followed him by saying Yeltsin stands for reform and is the only candidate who can lead Russia to a bright future.


"Alone, behind an Iron Curtain, we won't survive,'' she said.


A top Communist presented the party's own doomsday scenario Monday. Aman Tuleyev, who is on the June 16 ballot but is telling voters to back Zyuganov, said in a televised ad that "Boris Nikolayevich [Yeltsin] will finish off the country if he wins another term.''


Tuleyev said the most important thing for Russians is to correct Yeltsin's reforms. He is a backup candidate in case something happens to Zyuganov and otherwise plans to withdraw at the last minute in favor of the Communist leader.