Former Communists Are Not Convinced

CAMPAIGN IN THE UKRAINE

'VYACHESLAV MAXIMOVICH, I appreciate your program, but I don't think you will be able to carry it out," said the man in the gray suit. "I fear any revolutionary mood will lead to conflicts and bloodshed."Thus rang the first comment from the assembled Kherson Regional Executive Committee to Vyacheslav Chernovil, Ukrainian presidential candidate and ex-dissident. Mr. Chernovil had just outlined his ideas for reform - a strong presidency, gradually privatized collective farms, de-monopolized industry - and the initial reaction brought him squarely back to his old nemesis, the communists. Technically, the communists no longer rule. But in cities all around eastern Ukraine they remain the powers that be, now as government executives. Their sharp questions to Chernovil brought home just how steep is his uphill battle to win the Ukrainian presidency. These men carry clout. If they don't like someone, they can get the word out that he doesn't deserve support. "In eastern Ukraine, people from western Ukraine are conducting western Ukrainian propaganda," said another man. "You claim they are only cultural envoys. They seem more like Che Guevara calling people to revolution." The west is not exporting revolution, Chernovil insisted. "It is just a cultural exchange." He blamed central television for showing extremists and pretending they represented a majority of the population of western Ukraine. Somehow, the Kherson Regional Executive Committee seemed unconvinced after its hour with the former dissident.

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