MOSCOW — President Boris N. Yeltsin, in a televised appeal three days before Russia's elections, warned voters that the threat of civil war "will loom over the country" unless they adopt a new constitution that strengthens his powers at Parliament's expense.
Yeltsin said in a taped speech aired Thursday night that his proposed constitution would "protect Russia and its citizens from upheavals like those of October, 1993," when army tanks crushed violent resistance to his decree dissolving the old Soviet-era Parliament.
To make the proposed constitution law, more than half of Russia's 107 million voters must turn out Sunday and a majority of those going to the polls must cast "yes" ballots. Some regional leaders and opposition candidates for the new Parliament being elected that day have urged a "no" vote. Opinion polls point to no clear result, and Yeltsin is clearly worried.
In a televised forum of candidates from 13 parties Thursday night, Oleg T. Bogomolov of the Democratic Party of Russia called Yeltsin's draft "the legalization of a personal dictatorship."
But Yeltsin said the divisive election campaign had shown that politicians are inexperienced and incapable of cooperating on something so important.