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Russia: Influential Political Movements Form Bloc

Moscow, 3 August 1999 (RFE/RL) - The regionally-based All Russia (Vsya Rossiya) political movement has decided to ally itself with the Fatherland (Otechestevo) group of Moscow Mayor Yurii Luzhkov in Russia's parliamentary elections in four months. The Interfax news agency today quotes Oleg Morozov, an All Russia leader, as saying the movement's presidium had voted unanimously to contest the elections in a bloc with Fatherland. Morozov said the two parties still had to work out the details of their electoral union. Some political analysts say such an alliance could prove to be unbeatable in the December elections and could also affect the June 2000 presidential election.

The analysts say that Luzhkov, a possible presidential candidate, needs to widen his appeal across Russia, and that All Russia's regional sources could help him a lot.

Earlier today, after meeting former Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin, President Boris Yeltsin praised his political potential, saying: "[Chernomyrdin] has a powerful election team and we are greatly interested in him."

Also in Moscow today, Russia's Communist Party accused Prime Minister Sergei Stepashin of improper remarks last week during his trip to the United States. Stepashin said publicly that "the Communists will never win in Russia, they will never return."

In a statement, the Communist Party said Stepashin's comments showed that the Kremlin plans to meddle with the outcome of the parliamentary elections. It called for an official investigation of the matter.