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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Zyuganov Indicates Run for Kremlin

MTFrom left, Ulas, Gubenko, Melnikov and Zyuganov speaking to reporters Monday. An Interfax employee is on the right.
Communist Party chief Gennady Zyuganov indicated Monday that he would run for president in 2008, making him the second person to step into the race for the Kremlin.

"The party elected me leader, and as the leader I must carry out the party's assignment to run for president," Zyuganov said at a news conference where he presented Communist candidates for the upcoming Moscow City Duma elections. "If the party assigns me to run, I am ready to run."

Zyuganov's remarks signaled a change of heart from last year's presidential election, which he skipped after his party's weak showing in the 2003 State Duma elections. Putin overwhelmingly won re-election.

Former Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov announced his presidential bid last month, while President Vladimir Putin, who has said he believes it his duty to name a preferred successor, has given no indication about whom he would pick. Putin is constitutionally barred from seeking a third term.

As for the City Duma elections, Zyuganov said the Communist Party hoped to win 15 percent to 20 percent of the vote with candidates who include factory workers, scholars, lawyers, doctors and teachers. No Communists now serve in the 35-seat legislature.

"We are proud that our list is truly of the people. It represents ordinary Muscovites, and it shows that we have fresh political forces," Zyuganov said.

The party has long been criticized for its reluctance to reform itself and for an absence of new, charismatic leaders. Zyuganov said that the average age of candidates on the Communists' party list was 48.

At the top of the list are Communist deputy leader Ivan Melnikov, actor and theater director Nikolai Gubenko, and Vladimir Ulas, head of the party's Moscow branch.

Melnikov said he would give up his seat in the State Duma and move to the City Duma if the party overcame the 10 percent threshold to win seats. "There is no way to solve any real problems in the current [State] Duma, so I would leave my seat with no regrets," he said.

United Russia controls the State Duma with a two-thirds majority, and it has the power to block all initiatives from other factions.

Mayor Yury Luzhkov is United Russia's top candidate in the City Duma elections, and Liberal Democratic Party leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky, who is a State Duma deputy speaker, is running on his party's ticket. Their participation appears to be aimed at attracting votes for their parties, and neither is expected to quit his job to become a City Duma deputy.