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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Small Businesses Eager for Final Vote

Small and medium-size businesses expressed satisfaction with President Boris Yeltsin's first-round election lead, but many seem more concerned about the effects of the long wait for a final result than about who actually wins.

"The waiting time between the two rounds makes it difficult for us to plan our expenses and activities," said Pyotr Pletnov, general director of the NIC, a small computer network company in Nizhny Novgorod, which is known for embracing market reforms.

"I am more worried about the losses we could suffer from the waiting period and undecided clients than the elections themselves," said Igor Kovalyov, sales manager of the video programming company C.Graphics also in Nizhny Novgorod, east of Moscow.

Yeltsin faces a strong challenge from resurgent Communist Party leader Gennady Zyuganov, who has said he would put the brakes on many reforms. That has prompted big and small investors alike to put plans on hold until they know who will be in charge at the Kremlin.

Though pleased at Yeltsin's first-round lead, many small-scale entrepreneurs expressed surprise at the close first-round results. Yeltsin polled 35 percent of the vote to 32 percent for Zyuganov.

"The small difference in the voting results shows that the country is still very unstable," said Valentina Vitoldova, manager of a beauty salon in central Moscow. "But I don't expect a crisis that could seriously disrupt our business."

Although most small-business operators said they were not overly worried about the second round, some emphasized their vulnerability compared to larger and financially stronger Russian industries.

"If anything happens, we cannot react as quickly as those large oil and car companies, who can absorb bigger losses," Pletnov said. "But on the other hand, we are more free from the state's influence than they are."

Election campaigners have avidly courted support of the small and medium-size business sector, said Alexander Prilipin of the Federal State Committee for the Support of Small and Medium Business. He said they were a strong voting bloc for Yeltsin.

Prilipin warned that a change in the government and in the course of reforms could seriously endanger the development of small- and medium-size businesses.

"If the Communists come to power, it could become more difficult for small entrepreneurs to get money either from the government or from banks because of the instability that would develop from such results," he said.

Although Yeltsin appeared as the main winning bet for most businesses, many cited liberal economist Grigory Yavlinsky as their first choice, though he won only 7.4 percent of the first-round vote.

"Most of us voted for Yeltsin, but I voted for Yavlinsky because I think he is more motivated than our current president to solve small businesses' problems," said Kovalyov in Nizhny Novgorod.

Pletnov agreed, contending that Yavlinsky offered more concrete solutions to the problems of small businesses. Like others, however, he cast a pragmatic vote for Yeltsin because he was sure Yavlinsky could not win and did not want to waste a ballot in a way that could help the Communists.