Runoff seems nearly certain in Russian election
June 17, 1996
Web posted at: 6:10 a.m. EDT (1010 GMT)
MOSCOW (CNN) -- A July runoff appeared almost inevitable as Russian President Boris Yeltsin held a slender lead over Communist rival Gennady Zyuganov in a crucial presidential election that will determine the future direction of Russia.
With 85.5 percent of the vote counted, Yeltsin was leading with about 35.02 percent, followed by Zyuganov with 31.53 percent, the Central Election Commission reported.
Former general Alexander Lebed was in third place with a surprisingly strong 14.89 percent. Economist Grigory Yavlinsky with 7.56 percent was ahead of ultra-nationalist Vladimir Zhirinovsky, who had 5.96 percent.
Yeltsin 35.0% Zyuganov 31.5% Lebed 14.9% Yavlinsky 7.6% Zhirinovsky 6.0% Gorbachev 0.5%
The Election Commission said it appeared certain that no candidate would receive 50 percent of the vote, so a runoff would be necessary. The second round is currently set for July 7.
Lebed conceded that he would not be among the two top vote- getters eligible for the second round, but was non-committal about which candidate he would support. Both Yeltsin and Zyuganov are already courting Lebed, realizing that his endorsement could prove significant in a runoff election.
While Sergei Karaganov, a member of the Presidential Council, predicted Lebed would support Yeltsin in the second round, Zyuganov said he is prepared to convince so-called "third force" candidates to back him in the next round of voting.
Zhirinovsky had said within the past week that he would back Zyuganov in the second round.
Five candidates, including former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, polled a total of 0.5 percent. About 70 percent of Russia's 106 million voters cast ballots. Yeltsin's backers had hoped for between 70 and 75 percent, believing a high turnout would help them against the better- organized Communists.
Pivotal Elections: Russia
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