Russia Experts Worry About Nation's Future

Harvard professors interviewed yesterday expressed alarm at the defeat of the leading pro-Boris Yeltsin party in Russia's parliamentary elections.

Three prominent specialists on Russia--Baird Professor of History Richard E. Pipes, Murrow Professor of Press, Politics and Public Policy Marvin Kalb and Marshall I. Goldman, associate director of the Russian Research Center--said the triumph of an ultra-nationalist group in the elections has clouded the country's future.

"People need to fear a nuclear disaster much more than they did last week," Goldman said.

The ultra-nationalist Liberal-Democratic Party, which opposes Yeltsin's economic and democratic reforms, won about 25 percent of the seats. The pro-Yeltsin Russia's Choice party finished second, with about 14 percent.

"The reason the reformers did so poorly is that they created a strong reaction to their economic programs," Goldman said.


But Kalb disagreed. He said that in spite of the victory, the Russian people still want change.

"I believe more people still favor democratic and economic reform," he said.

Communists also did well in the elections, finishing third with roughly 12 percent of the seats. Their strong showing raised the possibility that an alliance between ultra-nationalists and communists could dominate the Russian legislature.

"The democratic groups need to get together to stop the communist-fascist coalition which could make up 40 percent of the parliament," Pipes said.

All three experts said they were surprised that Vladimir V. Zhirinovsky, the leader of the Liberal-Democrats, had done so well.

Zhirinovsky confidently stated in a press conference yesterday that he wants to expand the Russian empire into Finland and as far south as the Indian Ocean. He also said he is not againstthe use of nuclear weapons.

"He is a threat," Goldman said. "I think he iscapable of anything."

Pipes said Zhirinovsky's radical views are notrepresentative of the entire Russian population.

Zhirinovsky, Pipes believes, appeals only tocertain constituencies: the elderly, theuneducated and the unskilled. "These people aremad," Pipes said.

They all expressed concern about the future ofYeltsin.

"Clinton should be criticizing those who gavehim bad advice, those who made him too wedded toYeltsin," said Goldman.

Goldman said he doubts that Yeltsin can remainin power until elections are held in 1996.

"Yeltsin should run for election," Goldmansaid. "He has to have another mandate. If hedoesn't run again, he will be forced out.