The response by Communist Party leader Gennady Zyuganov, another presidential aspirant, to Luzhkov’s remarks added further fuel to the rumors of a growing romance between the mayor and the communist-dominated “national-patriotic” movement. Zyuganov said he was not surprised by Luzhkov’s statements in London, adding that the Moscow mayor’s support extended beyond Moscow into the regions. More intriguing, the communist leader said he supported Luzhkov’s idea of creating a “left-center coalition,” and even dodged a question on whether he and Luzhkov would reach an agreement on which of them should bow out of the presidential race. Luzhkov’s comments also elicited a positive reaction from Vladimir Zhirinovsky, leader of the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia, who called the Moscow mayor the “most acceptable” presidential candidate from Russia’s “ruling class” (Russian agencies, September 30).
State Duma speaker Gennady Seleznev, one of Zyuganov’s party comrades, was lukewarm about Luzhkov’s demarche. Seleznev said he saw no chance of an alliance between Luzhkov and the national-patriots. He very much doubted the Communist Party would “put forward Luzhkov as its candidate for president” (NTV, September 30).
The most negative reaction came from Krasnoyarsk Governor Aleksandr Lebed, who refused to comment on Luzhkov’s statements, adding that what Luzhkov says generally does not interest him (Russian agencies, September 30). Luzhkov and Lebed are widely seen as rival “Third Force” candidates, vying for the potentially huge number of Russian voters who reject both the communists and those who represent the “party of power,” the Yeltsin-era establishment.
FORMER RUSSIAN OFFICIALS SPEAK OUT.