Moscow Mayor Calls for Unity
MOSCOW (AP) _ Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov on Saturday called on all Russians to unite under a new political movement to restore the country to its position as a leading world power.
Luzhkov, speaking at the founding congress of the Fatherland movement, urged ``workers, farmers, intelligentsia and military servicemen″ to unite in the name of Russia, the Interfax news agency reported.
Luzhkov launched the political movement in November, apparently to support his likely presidential bid in 2000.
He said Fatherland’s goal was to ensure Russia’s development as a market economy with a strong state sector drawing support from both the left and right of the political spectrum.
Luzhkov called for a revival of the defense industry and the country’s nuclear forces to restore Russia to a position of one of the world’s eight leading powers.
``We need a modern army, a reliable nuclear deterrence system,″ Luzhkov told the 1,123 delegates to the congress. ``The international community needs a strong Russia as a great power that respects itself and other powers,″ he said, according to the ITAR-Tass news agency.
So far, Luzhkov has not said outright that he would run for president. The mayor is popular in Moscow, and has strong ratings in opinion polls. However, it is unclear how strong a popular following he has in Russia’s outlying regions, where many resent the capital’s relative prosperity.
Others expected to run in 2000 are Communist leader Gennady Zyuganov, liberal politician Grigory Yavlinsky, former Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin and Alexander Lebed, a former general who is now governor of a vast region in Siberia.