Summit Boosts Yeltsin's Campaign

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MOSCOW: The weekend summit between Russian President Boris Yeltsin and the leaders of the seven major industrialized nations could provide a needed boost to Yeltsin's struggling reelection campaign. With the G-7 seeking to prevent a return to power by Russia's increasingly popular Communist Party, the biggest concern for G-7 leaders was showing support for Yeltsin and his reform policies. "All the pomp and ceremony of being seen with world leaders has to have some impact on voters," Moscow correspondent Sally Donnelly says. "Standing near people like German Chancellor Kohl and President Clinton touches the Russian idea that they are still a great nation, which is hard to see in day-to-day life." Although Yeltsin easily won public backing from European and Japanese leaders, President Clinton tip-toed around the election issue as much as possible. "Clinton handled the situation very well," Donnelly says. "He stressed his relationship with Yeltsin and the progress Yeltsin has made with reform efforts without overtly saying the communists would not achieve those goals." Clinton and Yeltsin tried to avoid controversial issues such as NATO expansion, the war in Chechnya, and the sale of nuclear technology to Iran. "For Russians, it is pleasing to see a Western leader like Clinton not criticize Russia for doing something wrong," Donnelly says. "Clinton was very careful not to harp on Russia over the economy, foreign policy or Chechnya." Clinton did meet with a group of opposition leaders, including Communist Party candidate Genadi Zyuganov, but gave his only one-on-one meeting to Yeltsin.