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Yeltsin Issues Appeal to Zyuganov Supporters

Moscow, June 27 (RFE/RL) -- Russian President Boris Yeltsin has appealed to supporters of his Communist rival Gennady Zyuganov not to vote against, what he called, "the new way of life."

In the appeal, distributed to Itar-tass news agency, Yeltsin said he was ready for dialogue and cooperation with "all those for whom the fate of Russia is a top priority."

Yeltsin said that he was against the division of Russia into "reds and whites," a reference to the civil war which followed the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution. He said both sides should forgive "mutual offences."

In a separate appeal to citizens in small towns, Yeltsin urged them to take part in the second round of presidential elections on July 3. He called on them to vote for "Russia, its well-being..for your own future and that of your children."

Yeltsin also cancelled a one-day campaign trip to the Tula region, south of Moscow today. The Kremlin's press office told our correspondent that the trip was cancelled because Yeltsin has more important meetings today in Moscow.

In a related event, President Yeltsin says he will not appoint a new defence minister until the second round of presidential elections on July 3 is completed.

Interfax quotes a high-ranking military official (unnamed) as saying that Yeltsin made the announcement in a letter sent today to all military units.

An aide to newly-appointed Russian security chief Alexander Lebed told RFE/RL that the head of the academy of Russian staff, Igor Rodionov, is likely to be named the next defence minister. Lebed has often spoken out in favor of Rodionov. Lebed served under Rodionov's command in Afghanistan. Rodionov told Interfax that he would accept the post if the offer came.

It remains unclear whether Yeltsin supports Rodionov as Lebed's choice.