'Me-Too' Candidates Annoy Soviet Paper

From Reuters

The Moscow Communist Party daily suggested Sunday that there was little to choose among the candidates running for the capital's 26 districts in next month's parliamentary elections.

"What was the most striking thing about the first stage of the election?" Moscow Pravda asked, referring to the selection and registration of candidates for the Congress of People's Deputies, which in turn will elect a new parliament.

"First of all it was the complete or virtually complete identity of positions in the platforms of the absolute majority of candidates," the paper said.

Almost all the candidates stand for economic development, helping the underprivileged, environmental protection and strengthening democracy, it said. "Evidently, to enter into the contest without putting all these points into one's program would have been pointless," it added.

Procedure Criticized

The paper, which published the full list of candidates, criticized the nomination procedure and in particular the voting by show of hands. It expressed regret that there were few working class candidates, saying they had failed to get the organized backing given to intellectuals.

All the districts have more than one candidate on the ballot, as the new electoral law specifies, and in one district, voters will have to choose from 13 candidates on election day March 26.

A commentary on the elections by Soviet poet Yevgeny Yevtushenko, who himself narrowly failed to be adopted as a candidate for Moscow's Lenin district, urged voters to elect only those candidates advocating genuine change.

"We do not need a Supreme Soviet of subordinates fearing their bosses, or of their bosses fearing even higher bosses, or even those bosses who have no regard for public opinion or their own consciences," he wrote in the weekly Ogonyok.

Utopian Ideas

He called on voters to avoid candidates advocating patching up current problems as well as those with Utopian ideas "who hold elevated discussions about a state of law, while forgetting people's rights to a roof over their heads."

He said the main tasks of the new parliament, which will hold far greater powers than the existing rubber-stamp Supreme Soviet, should include granting citizens the right to free foreign travel and the abolition of residence permits.

Under the residence permit or propiska system, all Soviet citizens are restricted in where they can live. The propiska for the main cities such as Moscow and Leningrad are hard to come by for ordinary people who were not born there.

Yevtushenko also called for an end to the system of special shops, hospitals and services for senior officials as a first stage to solving the country's economic problems.

Similar calls for an end to special privileges have been made by former Moscow party chief Boris N. Yeltsin, who will fight for a seat representing the whole of Moscow at the polls.

Yeltsin was dropped as a non-voting member of the party's ruling Politburo in 1988 after criticizing the slow pace of reform.

At an election meeting last week, where Yeltsin was chosen along with a Moscow car plant director from a list of 10 candidates, he pledged to open the question of a multi-party system to wider discussion.

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