AS RUSSIA'S JUNE 16 presidential election draws closer, the specter of a communist comeback is rising. Although President Boris N. Yeltsin has surged in recent polls, the reconstituted Communist Party's candidate, Gennady Zyuganov, is favored to win. Just five years after the collapse of the Soviet Union, the sickle and hammer may soon be re-established as Russia's symbols.
This possibility has produced some intriguing political scrambling in Moscow.
As nearly always since the disintegration of the Soviet Union, Russia's reformist democrats are split and feuding. Some, led by former Prime Minister Yegor Gaidar, have decided to back President Yeltsin's re-election. Others, including human rights activist Sergei Kovalyov, support Grigory Yavlinsky, a Harvard-trained economist, who is trying to forge an election alliance with retired Gen. Alexander Lebed, a tough-talking conservative.