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Zyuganov Makes Coalition Offer to Yeltsin Rivals

Moscow, June 4 (RFE/RL) -- Russian Communist leader Gennady Zyuganov today proposed forming a coalition with some of his rivals to challenge President Boris Yeltsin in the June 16 presidential election.

Interfax news agency quotes Zyuganov as saying in the Siberian city of Novosibirsk that he is ready to offer "posts in the government to all those who represent 'the third force'" should he win the election.

The term "third force" is usually used to describe three other candidates -- liberal economist Grigory Yavlinsky, retired general Alexander Lebed, and eye surgeon Svyatoslav Fyodorov.

Yavlinsky, Lebed and Fyodorov have tried and failed to unite to form a challenge to Yeltsin and Zyuganov, who are both far ahead in the polls. But Lebed and Yavlinsky have publicly ruled out cooperating with the communists.

Zyuganov also criticized Yeltsin's record on reforms and Chechnya. The communist chief said Yeltsin's reforms have ended with the destruction of the state, the collapse of the economy, and bloody military conflicts.