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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Media Make Mock Of Campaign Curb

It was all supposed to end at midnight on Monday. No more campaign speeches, no rallies and no concerts -- all in keeping with Russian electoral law stipulations that "political agitation" should cease one day before the elections. But where President Boris Yeltsin's campaign staff left off, the Russian media picked right up.


Anti-communist propaganda dominated the airwaves and the front pages of leading newspapers, in an open effort to place the electorate behind the president, and against Communist challenger, Gennady Zyuganov.


Television viewers were subjected to a barrage of advertizing spots, exhorting voters to go to the polls "for their children" or "for a bright future," common Yeltsin campaign themes.


Prominent democrats such as Galina Starovoitova and Ella Pamfilova appeared in "public service announcements" urging Russians to vote.


"If you do not take an interest in politics," warned Starovoitova darkly, "there may come a time when politics will take an interest in you."


Russian Public Television, or ORT, broadcast a four-part serial on the writer Maxim Gorky, documenting the brutal excesses of the Stalinist regime and Gorky's murder by Stalin's henchmen.


The film ended with a solemn voiceover: "Now, at the end of the century, Russia is once again in danger of losing its way, and turning toward this evil system."


The newspapers were more than happy to do their part.


"Even the Mongolians Have Rejected Communism. Are We Really More Stupid?" crowed the outspoken Moskovsky Komsomolets in a front-page headline, referring to Mongolia's communists who lost their parliamentary majority to a democratic coalition on Monday for the first time in 75 years.


The paper, which boasts the largest daily circulation in Russia, also trotted out a section from the Stalinist criminal code which called for children who played hooky from certain technical schools to serve up to a year in a labor camp. "It's very possible that ... the red pedagogues will give us just such a decree," the daily wrote.


Izvestia followed a similar tactic in a story on fears of a possible sausage shortage in Moscow. Russians "remember ration cards for sugar, cigarettes and vodka," the paper wrote, adding that "there aren't many countries in the world where there was such malnutrition as in Russia [under the Communists]." Vechernyaya Moskva ran a short article on one man's search for his father who died in the gulag under Stalin, ending with the exultation "Glory to God that we ... have freed ourselves from the plague of the 20th century -- the communist idea."


The church weighed in with an interview with the Patriarch, Alexy II, on Izvestia's front page. "We haven't forgotten that we had to go through some very difficult decades," Alexy said. "There were repressions, persecutions and administrative interference in the life of the church ... Naturally, we're not indifferent about whether or not we will return to the tragic past that the church and believers had to endure."