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Yeltsin Arrives in Hometown for Campaign Finale

Yekaterinburg, Russia, June 14 (RFE/RL) -- Russian President Boris Yeltsin went home to Yekaterinburg in the Urals Mountains today to put the cap on his re-election campaign.

The city had prepared for his arrival. Newspapers ran front-page, banner headlines endorsing his candidacy and carried emotional appeals on his behalf. The streets were lined with Yeltsin campaign posters and the Russian tri-color flag. The Interfax news agency reports that after arriving in Yekaterinburg, Yeltsin said he was satisfied with his campaign. But Yeltsin added he regretted that democratic forces had been unable to unite behind one candidate.

In Moscow, Communist candidate Gennady Zyuganov has declared that he is confident of a first-round victory in Sunday's election, and ultranationalist Vladimir Zhirinovsky has said he expects Zyuganov to win.

Today is the final official day of campaigning in the Russian presidential election. Sunday is election day.

A corps foreign observers has assembled in Russia for the election. The Central Electoral Commission said today that more than 1,000 observers have been registered.

Liberal candidate Grigory Yavlinsky has said the results will be falsified, and the only question is by whom. But international observers have judged previous Russian elections since the collapse of communism as generally free and fair.

Also today, Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin said the Russian government plans to launch sweeping reforms of social welfare provision and the tax system soon. Interfax said Chernomyrdin told local leaders in the southern Urals town of Orenburg that the government's reform will focus on raising pensions and wages. He said it would also include job creation schemes to prevent mass unemployment. Chernomyrdin said the tax reform, due to begin in 1997, would involve selective state support for enterprises.