Bombing Sparks Accusations As Moscow Election Nears

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MOSCOW: Speculation over the source of a terrorist bombing in a Moscow subway added to mounting political tensions just four days before Russia's presidential election this Sunday. As more than 100,000 of Russians gathered in central Moscow Wednesday to mark the sixth anniversary of Russian Independence Day, President Boris Yeltsin and Communist leader Gennady Zyuganov were making some last-minute political hay by blaming one another's supporters for the bombing, the third Moscow bomb incident in less than a week. While no group has yet taken responsibility for Tuesday night's incident, in which 12 people were killed when a one-pound package of TNT exploded in a metro car, everyone from Yeltsin supporters to Communist activists to Chechen rebels has been singled out in speculation over the crime. TIME Moscow correspondent Sally Donnelly reports that it is more likely that the bombing was intended to disrupt Moscow's mayoral election, which also takes place this weekend. A bombing last Friday seriously wounded vice-mayoral cadidate Valery Shatsev; on Saturday, an explosive device was found under a parked car near the city's outer ring road where Moscow mayor Yuri Luzhkov was headed for a visit. "There's no evidence that any of the three incidents were intended to strike at the presidential cadidates," Donnelly says. "But with four days to go before the presidential election, the subway bombing may frighten people away from going to the polls to vote." Although Yeltsin is leading Zyuganov in Russian polls, it now seems clear that no candidate is likely to win the necessary 50 percent of the vote. If so, the top two candidates will face off in a run-off election in July. -->