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Russian Presidential Candidates Kick Off TV and Radio Campaigns

Moscow, May 14 (RFE/RL) - Candidates in the Russian presidential election today began their first day of official campaign broadcasting.

Former army general Aleksandr Lebed started the first early morning broadcast by promising to clamp down on social injustice while boosting the economy.

Lebed said on Radio Mayak that "for five years we have been running in place. It is time to take the first steps forward. " He asked voters to give him "the strength of your support."

He was followed an hour later by Communist Party leader Gennady Zyuganov, a front-runner with President Boris Yeltsin for the June 16 election.

Zyuganov sought to allay fears over what a Communist victory would mean. He told Radio Yunost there should be no fears of prisons or 'GULAGS' - state labor camps - or other illegalities re-emerging. Zyuganov promised all legal decisions would be based on court decisions.

Over the next four weeks until the end of June 14, the 11 candidates will take slots of up to half-an-hour of free air time on four radio stations and three television channels.

President Boris Yeltsin is scheduled to make his first radio broadcast on Friday morning , followed by a 10-minute slot on the ORT television channel on May 21.