While Russians in the southern region of Krasnodar went to the polls Sunday, the Soviet State Security Committee and the Communist Party waged a propaganda war against one candidate on the ballot, cashiered KGB Gen. Oleg D. Kalugin.
Kalugin was running for the seat in the Congress of People’s Deputies, the national Parliament, that was once held by Ivan K. Polozkov, a powerful conservative who vacated it upon becoming chief of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation, largest of the Soviet Union’s 15 republics.
If Kalugin wins over 19 rival candidates, it will be a symbolic victory for the growing social democratic movement in the Soviet Union and another blow struck by the citizenry against the Kremlin powers that be.
While Kalugin stumped for votes, KGB officials intensified their battle against the 55-year-old former chief of foreign counterintelligence. He is facing an investigation that could lead to criminal charges against him for disclosing methods and activities of the KGB, the Soviet security and espionage agency. At a Kalugin campaign rally Thursday, planes circled over the crowd and dropped leaflets in support of Kalugin’s opponents, most of whom are connected with the Communist Party, including cosmonaut Anatoly Beregovoy.
In urban areas, Kalugin drew large crowds to campaign speeches, during which he denounced the Communist Party’s manipulation of society through the KGB and called for a free-market system.
But in the countryside, his support appeared minimal. Two-thirds of the estimated 3 million voters in the area on the shores of the Black and Azov seas are peasants who traditionally have endorsed candidates from the Communist Party, who until last year were the only choices on the ballot.
“When I come to a rural area, I rarely see a peasant who supports me,” Kalugin was quoted by the Reuter news agency as saying recently. “The people who read newspapers do support me.”
Because of the large number of candidates, election results were not expected before today.