President Boris Yeltsin appealed to Communist voters Thursday "not to vote against our new life" and said he was willing to work with any political group seeking Russia's best interests.
His appeal was one of a flurry to voters least likely to back him in Wednesday's presidential runoff against Communist candidate Gennady Zyuganov.Zyuganov, who trails in polls, has tried to present himself as the candidate of compromise, proposing a coalition government in the deeply polarized country. He said in a television spot this week that Yeltsin was risking new "lawlessness" by failing to reciprocate.
In his appeal to Zyuganov's voters, carried by the ITAR-Tass news agency, Yeltsin said he was "ready for a dialogue and cooperation with everyone whose main priority is the fate of Russia."
"Forgive each other your hurts and don't vote against our new life, no matter how unaccustomed it is for you today," Yeltsin said.
Yeltsin's support is weakest in small-town and rural Russia, where the benefits of his market reforms have been slowest to arrive.
In a separate appeal carried by ITAR-Tass, he told small-town voters today that he knows they have been neglected and he promised "the time has come for the revival and blossoming of small towns."
And in an article published in the weekly Argumenty i Fakty, Yeltsin promised villagers he would push agricultural reform. He blamed the Russian countryside's crisis of low productivity and rock-bottom living standards on "70 years of violence against the laws of economic and common sense."
"I intend to firmly defend your right to land" and other freedoms, Yeltsin said.