Boris Yeltsin swept the Russian presidential election, and Leningrad residents voted to restore the czarist-era name of St. Petersburg to their city - repudiating decades of Communist rule in the Soviet Union's largest republic, results showed Thurs-day.
Early returns also showed clear wins by the pro-reform mayors of Moscow and Leningrad, Gavriil Popov and Anatoly Sobchak, who like Yeltsin quit the Communist Party last year and lead a growing opposition to Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev's central government.While the results of Wednesday's election in the Russian Federation will have no direct effect on the central Soviet government, voters in the largest and richest of the country's 15 republics sent a definite message that they support faster reforms championed by Yeltsin.
Vasily Kazakov, chairman of the Central Election Commission, said Thursday that while official final results would take several days it was clear Yeltsin won more than the majority required for election on the first ballot among six candidates.
"There will evidently be no runoffs in the elections for Russian president," Kazakov said.
Yeltsin's campaign estimated his vote at 60 percent, the semi-independent Russian Information agency said preliminary figures gave him 57.3 percent and the independent Interfax agency said the final total would be over 56 percent.
The election commission said more than 70 percent of the 105 million voters cast ballots in the republic, which covers three-quarters of the Soviet Union's area, has half its population and most of its wealth in oil, gold and other resources.
Yeltsin's nearest challenger and the candidate supported by the Communist Party, former Soviet Premier Nikolai Ryzhkov, had no more than 15 percent of the vote, Interfax said.
Yeltsin ran strongest in the large cities of Russia, with the official news agency Tass saying he got up to 82.9 percent of the vote in Moscow.
The resounding victory gives Yeltsin a new strong popular mandate to challenge central Communist rule, and it will make him an even greater power broker in his rivalry with Gorbachev on how to revive the country.
In his campaign, Yeltsin vowed to pursue an independent, if limited, foreign policy and said he would visit the United States. In Washington, White House spokesman Marlin Fitzwater, in congratulating Yeltsin for his victory, said the Russian leader has been invited to meet with President Bush on June 20.
In another indication of the dissatisfaction with seven decades of Communist rule, a referendum in Leningrad to restore the city's pre-Revolution name St. Petersburg passed with 54 percent in favor, Interfax said.
Voters disregarded strong opposition by Gorbachev and the Communist Party to removing the name of the founder of the Communist state, Vladimir Lenin, from the country's second-largest city.