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Press Review: Politics In Russia And The UnitedStates

  • Don Hill



Prague, March 28 (RFE/RL) - Politics in the United States and Russia draw the scrutiny of press commentators.

Hearst Newspapers columnist Robert E. Thompson writes today in a commentary distributed by the New York Times News Service: "(U.S.) presidential primaries, which were gradually infused into our political system after the turn of the century by idealistic reformers..., once again have accomplished the objective for which they were created. Voters in primary elections across the nation have decreed that neither the Democratic nor the Republican presidential nominee will be selected this year by party bosses in old-fashioned, free-for-all brokered conventions. The men chosen to lead the two parties into battle have been selected by direct vote of the people."

In the New York Times today, commentator Tom Wicker writes: "In an election year it's bad enough when Congress is controlled by one party and the White House by another. When an incumbent president also is opposed by a Senate majority leader - which has never happened before - things may be worse. So far in 1996, with the Republicans managing Congress, the Democrats clinging to the White House and Majority Leader Bob Dole the all-but-certain opponent of President Clinton in November, the result has been non-stop political gamesmanship."

The Cox News Service today distributes these comments by Waco, Texas, newspaper editor Rowland Nethaway: "Immigration politics and election years go hand in hand.... Politicians love to pull the immigration rabbit out of the election-year hat. Pounding the (lectern) over immigration demonstrates patriotism. Us against them. More importantly, immigration issues provide scapegoats for current problems.... This is a nation built by immigrants. But this nation also has struggled for most of its young existence with the immigration issue."

"In 1992, candidate Bill Clinton had a lot of praise for Western Europe's blend of private enterprise coupled with a heavy dose of social welfare as a model...," Bernard D. Kaplan comments today from Paris in a column in the United States' Hearst Newspapers group. Kaplan goes on: "But it's pretty certain he won't have anything to say on that score in the coming presidential campaign.... How different things now look. These days, Europeans are desperately seeking clues to the secret of an American rebound that has led to the creation of millions of new jobs, notwithstanding the restructuring and downsizing of many U.S. companies."

John Hall writes today in a column distributed by the New York Times News Service: "The re-election campaigns of both Boris Yeltsin and Bill Clinton seem to be driven by a parallel need to deprive political opponents of running room on national security issues.... The danger is that... the political rhetoric will become policy and the two countries, this time for no good reason, will become adversaries yet again. Well in advance of Russia's June election, Yeltsin co-opted both his Communist and right wing nationalist foes by taking a firm stand against the expansion of NATO into Eastern Europe.... Here, on the other side of the Atlantic..., the Clinton administration in little more than a year has moved from a policy of resisting pressure for NATO enlargement into Poland, the Czech Republic and Hungary to the active pursuit of NATO membership for Poland and perhaps others."

In an editorial distributed yesterday by the Knight-Ridder News Service, the Chicago Tribune said: "Secretary of State Warren Christopher... displayed uniquely bad timing when he announced, in yet another foreign policy flip-flop, that the United States is pushing NATO to expand eastward into the former Soviet bloc. Christopher's comments contradicted... Clinton administration statements... that debate on whether NATO will accept members from the new democracies in Central Europe would be frozen until after the June presidential elections in Russia.... Yeltsin... trails the Communist Party candidate, Gennady Zyuganov, who describes the now-dead Warsaw Pact in terms of a modern Russian tragedy. When Christopher announced last week that NATO would expand, he stole votes from Yeltsin and gave them to the Communist Party."

The Frankfurter Rundschau says today in an editorial signed by Karl Grobe: "On Sunday..., Yeltsin wants to announce on TV how he proposes to end the war in Chechnya for which he is responsible. Rumour has it that there will be no major military operations after this. But there will still be no peace. Yeltsin will make a promise... he cannot keep.... We cannot expect Yeltsin to admit that this war, as Joseph Fouche once cynically said, is 'Not just a crime, but also a mistake.' ...He is in the midst of an election campaign. Russia has managed to circumvent democracy and has ended up with its corrupt version -- professional mendacity."

In an analysis in today's Wall Street Journal Europe, Claudia Rosett writes: "the face that Russia's resurgent Communist Party presents to the world is that of its presidential candidate, Gennady Zyuganov. But getting to know the real Gennady isn't easy. He flashes a capitalist creed to the West, and a communist line to the voters.... Many of Russia's communists don't have a clue how market democracy works. Instead, they blame it for a host of Soviet-bequeathed ills.... Typical of othese communist survivors is party patriarch Anatoly Lukyanov, (who) now serves as one of Mr. Zyuganov's colleagues on the Communist Party's active governing body.... Watching his comrades file into the state Duma for a debate on rejecting private ownership of land, Mr. Lukyanov says, 'I am an even more determined communist than I used to be.' ...Among those observing Mr. Zyuganov's campaign with alarm is liberal state Duma member and veteran human rights advocate Sergei Kovalyov. In his view, Mr. Zyuganov would lead the country to economic collapse, but in the end, the attempt to restore Soviet rule would fail."

Also in The Wall Street Journal Europe, Steve Liesman writes today from Moscow: "President Boris Yeltsin... has shaken up his campaign staff and even brought in Anatoly Chubais, a top reformer whom he fired from the government just two months ago.... A spokesman for Mr. Chubais... said only that Mr. Chubais has repeatedly said he 'would do everything possible to preven communists from coming to power.'"
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