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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Zyuganov's Leftist Bloc Dumped By Tuleyev

Condemning his old Communist allies as ineffectual, Kemerovo region Governor Aman Tuleyev says he is looking for "men of action" to join him in his new national movement.

"This is the last bell for the leftist opposition," Tuleyev, one of the most powerful regional leaders, said at a news conference Tuesday.

Tuleyev blasted Communists and others in the National Patriotic Union - an umbrella group of leftists of which the governor is a leading member - for "doing nothing" for their constituents during their tenure in the State Duma.

And he told reporters who in the government had done right by his coal-rich, cash-poor and socially explosive region: Kremlin favorite First Deputy Prime Minster Nikolai Aksyonenko.

In a sign that Aksyonenko has lined up the support of the influential regional leader, Tuleyev credited him with helping to ensure federal cash transfers to Kemerovo that convinced striking miners to end their sit-in on the Trans-Siberian Railroad tracks last year. Aksyonenko was railways minister then.

"The miners stood up and said, Nikolai Yemelyanovich [Aksyonenko], thank you. You are the first person to resolve these issues," Tuleyev said. "That has never happened before in the Kuzbass," the Siberian coal region where Kemerovo is located.

Since being appointed first deputy prime minister in the new government, Aksyonenko has sought to build on the natural affinity that developed between the coal-producing region and the Railways Ministry. He has courted the Kemerovo region with a promise to find a lost 125 million rubles ($5.1 million) in federal transfer money that Tuleyev said never reached his region.

Regional support could be critical for the Kremlin in the coming elections. Tuleyev's movement is likely to weaken Kuzbass-area support for the Communists, President Boris Yeltsin's enemies.

Revival and Unity, at a congress held Saturday at a resort hotel on Moscow's outskirts, asked Tuleyev to become its leader. The movement has been in existence for a year and a half and has representatives from 51 regions, Tuleyev said.

He said his movement would back "suitable" candidates in the Duma and presidential elections, scheduled for this December and June 2000, respectively. Tuleyev said he would work with "people of action" from any political circle, except for fascists and ultranationalists.

April regional parliamentary elections in Kemerovo showed that Tuleyev can deliver election victories in his region: 34 out of the 36 candidates backed by his Aman Tuleyev Bloc won seats.

Tuleyev said Tuesday he would "watch how events developed" before deciding whether to run for president himself in 2000. In 1996, he abandoned his bid in order to back Gennady Zyuganov, the Communist Party leader who lost to Yeltsin.

Tuleyev said his criticism of the Communists and the National Patriotic Union was part of "an old argument."

"This isn't a stab in the back," he said.

Zyuganov, who also heads the National Patriotic Union, denounced Tuleyev's move. "Contacts between centrist movements and big parties are exceptionally important right now," Interfax quoted Zyuganov as saying.

A series of schisms have rocked the leftist camp and left Zyuganov scrambling for allies just six months before the Duma elections.