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Russia: Communist Leaders Create New `Patriotic Union'

Moscow, August 5 (RFE/RL) -- Russian Communist leaders moved ahead today with the creation of a "People's Patriotic Union," a formal political bloc of the loose coalition that backed Communist candidate Gennady Zyuganov in his failed bid to oust President Boris Yeltsin.

The union's founding congress is scheduled for Wednesday. But Itar-Tass says Zyuganov and leaders of 21 communist splinter parties from around the former Soviet Union met over the weekend.

They agreed to encourage striking Russian workers to shift from economic to political demands and to fight for more control of the press, proposing new broadcast stations and news agencies of their own. Zyuganov, speaking at a news conference, also blasted the current government for failing to pay miners on strike in the Far East over back wages.

Nikolai Ryzhkov, a former Soviet prime minister and the congress' chief organizer, told the Interfax news agency that conferences have already have been held in more than 40 Russian regions to set up the union's grassroots structures.

Zyuganov said that his Communist Party, which meets tomorrow, will press a variety of demands from Yeltsin's new government.

Yeltsin has proposed that Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin head the new government. That appointment is expected to come before the Communist-dominated parliament later this month. Yeltsin has said the rest of the government would be named after that.