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Sample: Russian Military Chooses Yeltsin; Shuns Zhirinovsky

Moscow, June 17 (RFE/RL) - If the result of an informal sampling of three military towns near Moscow is representative, Russia's soldiers chose Boris Yeltsin over other candidates for the presidency in yesterday's voting.

They differed with their civilian counterparts by preferring retired Lieutenant General Aleksander Ledbed second best.

RFE/RL correspondent in Moscow today checked the returns from Novy Gorodok, Chekalovsky, and Bakhchivandzhi. He reports that possibly as many as 30,000 servicemen voted in these three military towns, with turnouts as high as 75 percent of the eliigibles in some polling places.

Yeltsin received more votes at each polling station than did any other candidate, in some places collecting as high as 40 percent. Lebed came in second, receiving an average of 25 percent, according to the preliminary and unofficial returns collected by our correspondent.

Communist candidate Gennady Zyuganov, whose total came close to that of Yeltsin in preliminary reports nationally, ran well behind Lebed. Nationalist Vladimir Zhirinovsky, whose party showed some strength in 1993 and 1995 parliamentary voting, drew less than two percent of the vote in the military towns sampled.

Our correspondent's sampling bore results similar to those reported by military officials from military towns in Siberia and Russia's Far East. There too, Yeltsin was reported to have polled a plurality, with Lebed second.

Independent and party observers at the election stations at Novy Gorodok, Chekalovsky, and Bakhchivandzhi told our correspondent that the ballot counting appeared free of irregularities.