Yeltsin the Winner, Early Polling Shows

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MOSCOW: After months of worldwide concern that the largest country in the world could return to Communist rule, the early returns indicate that Boris Yeltsin has won Russia's presidential runoff election. With some 30 percent of the vote has been counted, the incumbent had a strong lead of 54 percent of the vote to Communist challenger Gennady Zyuganov's 40 percent. "It would have been a disaster for all concerned had the Russians elected Zyuganov. But they really voted for the lesser of two evils," says TIME's Bruce Nelan. For Yeltsin, the chief problem is his rapidly failing health. While a smiling, confident Yeltsin cast his ballot from a rest home outside Moscow, rumors that he continues to suffer a heart ailment persist. But for today, anyway, the Russian president was in full campaign mode, reminding Russians to get out and vote. A high voter turnout, which in many areas ran between 60 and 65 percent, was considered vital for Yeltsin's reelection. A smaller turnout would have helped Zyuganov, who has a stronger, more dedicated pool of supporters. Even Yeltsin's own advisers feared that Zyuganov could win if less than 60 percent of Russia's 106 million voters showed up at the polls. But Yeltsin was not without last minute support: Early Wednesday, Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin made a radio appeal to voters, as did Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov, Russian Orthodox Patriarch Alexy II and economic reformer Yegor Gaidar -->