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July 12, 1996 - Image 7

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1996-07-12

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Above: Elizaveta Polevaya: "Yeltsin is
for a free future."

Right: Khaya Tsukerman watches
television, anxiously awaiting
election results.

people there to be happy
and satisfied with the
government. We have
some friends there, and
we are still concerned
about their lives."
Ms. Latinskaya and
her husband Leonid Latinsky left
Moldova three years ago and now
live in Southfield.
Although Ms. Latinskaya did
not follow the election on a regu-
lar basis, her husband made it a
point to keep up with Russian pol-
itics, which affects all states of the
former Soviet Union. He watched
Cable News Network, Canadian
news and Russian language pro-
grams out of New York. He also
read Russian newspapers.
Neither Mr. Yeltsin nor his
Communist challenger, Gennadi
A. Zyuganov, achieved a majority
in the first round of the election,
forcing last week's runoff.
Many New Americans agree
Mr. Yeltsin did not win by demon-
strating to voters that he could im-
prove their lives. Instead, the
country's first president was re-
elected because a majority of Rus-
sians did not want to return to
"Everyone wants to see things

improve and move forward in Rus-
sia, but when people come over,
they don't usually have any hope
for that to happen," said Lenna Is-
raetel, a counselor at Jewish Fam-
ily Service's Resettlement Service.
"But they are still afraid for fam-
ily and friends."
Mr. Yeltsin isn't exactly a No. 1
choice among Russian Jews. Some
said they hate the Russian leader.
But, they said, he is the lesser of
two evils, and at least they know
what to expect from him.
Most were not concerned over
reports that Mr. Yeltsin's health
is failing or that he made few pub-
lic appearances leading up to the
election. The Russian leader main-
tains he is healthy.
"I'm not very fond of him," Ms.
Israetel said "But right now, there
is no better candidate for presi-
dent. The other problem is the
mentality of people there. Their
way of life is not going to change.
"You can give them President

Clinton, and he will not be able to
do anything. The country does not
have any democratic traditions.
Things are moving slowly, and Pm
not sure they are moving in a de-
mocratic way.
"I hope the country is going into
a direction of early capitalism,
which is fine. That is the way it
should go. But it will take anoth-
er couple hundred years to get
somewhere. I want to be wrong. I
wish something would happen in
a shorter period. Yeltsin is the best
leadership the people can have
right now. He is allowing capital-
istic changes."
Questions loom over whether
Mr. Yeltsin will really be able to
cultivate the Russian economy.
New Americans are doubtful any-
thing can improve conditions in
the former Soviet Union but hope
they are wrong.
"The amount of people voting
for the Communists is frighten-
ing," Ms. Israetel said. "After more

than 70 years of Communist rule,
there are still so many people who
want Communist power. The dis-
crepancy between Yeltsin and
Zyuganov (Mr. Yeltsin won by a
13.3 percent margin) should not
be like this. After all the tragedies
of Communist rule, people should
turn away from Communism."
Galina Lebedinsky of Farm-
ington Hills left the Ukraine with
her family 28 months ago. She
does not like Mr. Yeltsin. At the
same time, she is glad Mr.
Zyuganov lost.
"At least he (Mr. Yeltsin) is let-
ting them go," she said. "I've heard
some of Zyuganov's speeches, and
he has said some really bad things
about Jews. I think it would be
worse if he won."
Mrs. Latinskaya is more wor-
ried about possible changes in
United States policy on immigra-
tion than whether Jews will con-
tinue being allowed to leave the
former Soviet Union. ❑

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