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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Zyuganov Ready to Fight for Kremlin

MTCommunist leader Gennady Zyuganov arriving for a news conference Wednesday. Behind him is Ivan Melnikov.
Communist Party leader Gennady Zyuganov said Wednesday he was ready to run for president next year and castigated opposition coalition The Other Russia as a Western stooge.

Speaking at a news conference, Zyuganov described himself as "one of the five or six most experienced politicians in Russia" and said that such a leader "must be ready to fight for the presidency."

Although the party will officially nominate its presidential candidate at its congress later this year, Communist Party deputy head Ivan Melnikov called Zyuganov's nomination a foregone conclusion.

Zyuganov did not run in the 2004 presidential election, in which his party was represented by State Duma Deputy Nikolai Kharitonov. Kharitonov finished second to President Vladimir Putin in the election, capturing 13.69 percent of the vote. Putin won with 71.31 percent.

Five other people have declared their intention to run in the March election. The movement led by former Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov nominated him as its candidate at a conference earlier this month. Former Central Bank chief Viktor Gerashchenko has said he also would run, as have Soviet-era dissident Vladimir Bukovsky and Liberal Democratic Party leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky.

Yabloko leader Grigory Yavlinsky last week said he would run, dealing another blow to hopes of the country's increasingly marginalized and fragmented opposition agreeing on a common candidate.

Zyuganov said joining forces with The Other Russia ahead of the Duma and presidential elections was out of the question and accused the group of being funded by the West.

"It is a Russian version of the orange leprosy," Zyuganov said of The Other Russia, comparing the coalition to the team led by Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko that swept to power during the 2004 Orange Revolution.

Zyuganov said protests led by the coalition were funded with the help of "foreign moneybags."

Zyuganov and Melnikov were also among nine party officials announced Wednesday as possible candidates to fill the top three spots on the Communist Party list in State Duma elections in December. Other candidates included Kharitonov and Duma Deputy Viktor Ilyukhin.

Political analyst Yury Korgunyuk linked Zyuganov's presidential bid with an attempt to raise the party's profile ahead of the Duma elections.

n Some 3,000 Voronezh members of the pro-Kremlin party A Just Russia have defected to Great Russia, a nationalist party founded on the initiative of former Rodina leader Dmitry Rogozin, Interfax reported Wednesday.

A Just Russia leader Sergei Mironov, however, denied the report, saying the actual number of defectors was around 30, Interfax reported.