Munich/Warsaw, June 17 (RFE/RL) - German Finance Minister Theo Waigel said today a victory by Communist Party leader Gennady Zyuganov in the Russian presidential elections would be catastrophic for the Russian people. Waigel said incumbent President Boris Yeltsin is the only one who can guarantee continuance of economic reforms in Russia. Waigel said those reforms are of capital importance to the West as well as to Russians. He said Yeltsin still seemed to have a good chance of winning the election in a second round.
In Poland, a deputy with the opposition Freedom Union (UW) party, Jan Litynski said he too was disturbed by the Russian poll results. Litynski said the Russian election reminded him of the presidential elections in Poland, where former President Lech Walesa seemed sure to win until he made a number of mistakes and former Communist Aleksander Kwasniewski surged ahead. Litynski said the same thing could happen in Russia.
Walesa told the Rzeczpospolita newspaper, a victory by Yeltsin would be better for everyone. He said the results of the first round show the Russian society remains deeply divided.
The Secretary-General of the post-communist Social Democrats (SdRP), Jerzy Szmajdzinski, said he too would prefer to see Yeltsin win because, he said, it would be better if Russia was run by someone who is known and predictable. Szmajdzinski said Yeltsin's victory would mean stability.