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Russia: Zyuganov Appeals For Unity Among Nationalist, Leftist Forces

Moscow, August 7 (RFE/RL) -- Gennady Zyuganov, Russian Communist Party leader, is appealing to the Popular-Patriotic Union that backed him in the recent presidential elections to remain united.

Addressing more than 300 delegates at the founding congress of the alliance in Moscow today, Zyuganov said nationalist and leftist forces face a choice -- either unite or else "lose the motherland." Only a more massive and effective organization could defeat those who are "destroying the country," he said.

President Boris Yeltsin was re-elected by a 13 percent margin in a presidential runoff against Zyuganov on July 3.

Nikolai Ryzhkov, former Soviet prime minister and head of the Union's organizing committee, says the main purpose in creating the movement was to unite all patriotic movements to create a force for Russia's rebirth as a great, independent and socially-orientated power.

But divisions within the bloc, which groups some 200 movements, have widened since the July vote. Interfax news agency said the Russian Popular Union declared today it would no longer take part.

And Viktor Anpilov, leader of Working Russia, who spent several months in prison for his role in the October 1993 rebellion against Yeltsin, told Interfax he is "skeptical" of the bloc's ability to change Russia's current system of government.

But Vasily Starodubtsev, who heads the Agrarian Union, said the bloc is "not only a viable coalition, but an extremely powerful one."