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Opposition parties in Soviet Union join forces

Democrats from 10 of the Soviet Union's fledgling parties and two dozen other political organizations banded together Sunday against the shaken but not yet beaten Communist Party. Democratic Russia, which claims support from 30 percent of the parliament of the Russian Federation and 60 percent of both the Moscow and Leningrad city councils, hopes to achieve a step-by-step takeover of power from the Communist Party, which has governed the Soviet Union for more than 73 years.

To end this long monopoly on power, the new democratic movement, in a series of resolutions adopted at a weekend congress in Moscow, called for creating a multiparty democracy with a market economy based on private ownership of property.

"The Communist Party bosses think they will be able to keep their monopoly intact because their democratic opponents are fragmented," said Vladimir Vedenkov, a delegate from Krasnoyarsk in Siberia. "This movement will help the opposition organize against the Communist Party."

Although the Communist Party gave up its constitutional monopoly on power early this year, no strong party has surfaced as an alternative in Russia, the largest of the Soviet Union's 15 constituent republics.

"This is the first step toward the unification of democratic forces," said Yuri Afanasyev, a founder of Democratic Russia and a member of the Congress of People's Deputies, the national parliament. "It won't be a party. It will be a coalition of sovereign, independent movements and parties."

Democratic Russia brings together most of the newly formed and still-small parties in Russia: the Christian Democrats, the Democrats, the Democratic Union, the Peasant Party, the Party of Free Labor, the Party of Russia, the Social Democrats, the Constitutional Democrats and others.

With more than 1,200 delegates from across Russia, the founding congress adopted more than a dozen resolutions, ranging from demands for the resignations of Prime Minister Nikolai Ryzhkov and his government to calls for the independence of Russia from the Soviet Union.

In both the resolutions and the speeches, Democratic Russia clearly supported Russian Federation President Boris Yeltsin and a radical path toward a market-based economy. Yeltsin did not attend, but sent a message of support.

But Democratic Russia remained amorphous, without concrete plans, as the delegates decided to await further developments before moving ahead.