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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Major Polls Concur on Yeltsin Lead

Nugzar Betaneli, who has bucked the trend among other opinion pollsters by consistently placing support for President Boris Yeltsin below that for his main rival, Communist Party leader Gennady Zyuganov, published new data Monday showing for the first time that Yeltsin has caught up.

Betaneli, director of the Institute of the Sociology of Parliamentarianism, published data in Moskovsky Komsomolets that shows Yeltsin polling 26 percent in the first round of elections and Zyuganov 25 percent, according to a survey of 6,000 Russians in 62 regions conducted between May 24 and May 28.

According to Betaneli's unique and complicated system of analysis and forecasting, this would give each of the two main contenders 36 percent of the vote on June 16.

While most polls showed Yeltsin pulling ahead of Zyuganov by the end of April, Betaneli's has consistently placed the communist leader well out in front. As recently as May 17, Betaneli was predicting Zyuganov would win 39 percent of the vote on June 16 to Yeltsin's 30.

"The change is stunning," Betaneli told Reuters. "It's a huge comeback."

Betaneli added that the findings reflected Yeltsin's control of the main television channels, an effective ad campaign, and the popularity of moves such as trying to end the fighting in Chechnya and vowing to end military conscription.

Another poll, commissioned by NTV independent television and conducted by the ROMIR polling organization on Sunday gave Yeltsin 35 percent support, against 24 percent for Zyuganov. The latest Moscow Times/CNN poll, published Saturday, put Yeltsin at 32.6 percent and Zyuganov at 19.7 percent.

A runoff will be necessary if no candidate wins more than 50 percent of the vote on June 16. Most analysts predict that Yeltsin and Zyuganov will face off in the second round, with virtually all polls giving Yeltsin the edge.

ROMIR shows Yeltsin winning a runoff by 46 percent to Zyuganov's 30 percent. The MT/CNN poll gives the president a wider edge of 47.9 percent against 27.6 percent for Zyuganov.

Betaneli gives no figures for a second round, but told Moskovsky Komsomolets two weeks ago that Yeltsin would win.