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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Zyuganov Turns In First Signatures

Communist Party leader Gennady Zyuganov on Friday announced that he has submitted more than 1.7 million signatures to the Central Election Commission, well in excess of the 1 million needed to register to run for president and the first signatures submitted by any candidate.

Campaign workers said they had actually collected more than 4 million signatures from 89 regions across Russia and would continue the petition drive.

"Let us assume that the nomination group has decided to have some rest this coming weekend," Zyuganov told reporters.

The declaration of having reached and surpassed the 1 million signature mark came just an hour after President Boris Yeltsin made his annual address to both houses of parliament. Alexander Shabanov, one of the Communist Party's directors, cautioned against drawing political conclusions.

"Please, don't speculate anew that we deliberately time political events by hour or by day to coincide," he told a press conference at the State Duma, parliament's lower house.

"Our party and our nomination group have been working according to plan, and we planned to submit the signatures to the Central Election Commission on the Day of Defenders of the Fatherland," he said, referring to Friday's holiday in honor of army veterans.

Last week Zyuganov and Yeltsin declared their candidacies for president on the same day. The timing led to calls that each was trying to outbroadcast the other.

Interfax reported Friday that Zyuganov's signatures were the first to reach the election commission. A commission spokesman told Interfax on Friday he also received Zyuganov's personal declaration of intent to run for president and his 1994-95 income statement.

At a Friday press conference at the State Duma, Zyuganov took questions from a room packed with Russian and international journalists.

He told reporters that during the next week, he will be concluding a series of meetings with leaders of Russia's major political movements. "The talks have been fairly successful and a major coalition is taking shape," he said.

One of the politicians in Zyuganov's appointment book was Grigory Yavlinsky, leader of the reformist Yabloko Party. Despite Yavlinsky's anti-communist stance, Zyuganov said the reformer would be forced to ally himself with the leftist coalition that is sponsoring Zyuganov for the presidency.

"They do not have much of a choice," he said, referring to Yavlinsky and his team. "Either they conduct a dialogue with us, conclude some agreements, or they associate with the government and the presidential team."