Russian President Boris Yeltsin, going in to the last week of campaigning for June 16 elections, declared in the Siberian town of Novosibirsk Sunday that he needed a first-round victory.

"We have to win in the first round. We cannot afford to lose on the 16th," Yeltsin, who faces a strong challenge from a communist rival, told crowds on arrival at Novosibirsk airport."If we do not vote as we should, we will lose and thus everyone will lose. You can imagine what will happen if they (the Communists) come to power. It must not be allowed," he added.

Yeltsin, 65, first president of independent post-Soviet Russia, sees his quest for a second term in office as a crusade to stop a Communist comeback that could threaten democratic and market reforms.

In a television interview screened Sunday night, Yeltsin said he felt intuitively he would win the election in the first round.

"My intuition tells me there'll be victory in the first round. The people, of course, will decide. Either I do not know my people or this will be the outcome," Yeltsin said in an interview on NTV commercial television channel.

Two new opinion polls meanwhile showed him maintaining a big lead over his communist opponent Gennady Zyuganov, 51.

The VTsIOM survey said he would command the support of 37 percent of the 1,600 people questioned compared with 25 percent for Zyuganov.

A second opinion poll, conducted by ROMIR, which is part of the Gallup group, gave Yeltsin the support of 35 percent of the 1,500 people polled alongside 23 percent for Zyuganov.

Neither poll sustained Yeltsin's confidence that he could secure the 50 percent of votes required for an outright win. All pollsters predict that the election will go to a second round clash in July.