Boris N. Yeltsin, who was dismissed a year ago from the ruling Politburo of the Soviet Communist Party for his radical, populist politics, won a hotly contested place Wednesday on the ballot in next month's elections for the new national legislature.
Yeltsin, an outspoken critic not only of party conservatives but sometimes of President Mikhail S. Gorbachev as well, received 532 votes at a 14-hour marathon meeting of the electoral commission that continued until nearly dawn in Moscow's historic Hall of Columns.
Yevgeny Brakov, director of the city's giant ZIL automotive plant, received 570 votes after a fierce, all-night debate on the merits of the 10 candidates and on the course of the country's reform process.
Under rules established by the commission, only the two top candidates will be on the March 26 ballot competing for Moscow's citywide, at-large seat in the new Congress of People's Deputies.
Rough and Tumble
The contest between Yeltsin, 57, a burly, plain-spoken politician, and Brakov, 51, a veteran industrial manager with more orthodox views on the need for reform, is likely to be a rough-and-tumble affair in the country's first competitive, multi-candidate parliamentary elections.
Until Yeltsin was ousted as party chief in Moscow and as an alternate member of the Politburo for complaining about the slowness of reform, he was one of Gorbachev's staunchest supporters. He still professes support for Gorbachev, but he is also running against the political Establishment, drawing on deep sentiment against the crippling bureaucracy.
A new opinion poll, still unpublished, finds Yeltsin to be the country's second-most-popular political figure after Gorbachev, particularly for his concern about declining living standards.
Speaking to the packed hall in central Moscow, Yeltsin endorsed Gorbachev's broad policies without hesitation. ("On tactics, I do have my own view," he said in his only demurral). But then, in the sort of ideological heresy that has made him so popular a figure but so mistrusted by the party leadership, he called for consideration of establishing a multiparty political system.
If elected, he wants to form a "left-revolutionary bloc" within the new Parliament, believing that it would include perhaps a third of the approximately 440 members of the Supreme Soviet, the standing legislature that will be drawn from the much larger Congress of People's Deputies.
Brakov had presented a mainstream program, also supporting Gorbachev's political, economic and social reforms but concentrating on the need for improved supplies of food and consumer goods.