New Democratic Movement Launched

Nine leading political figures and officials—former Politburo members Eduard Shevardnadze and Aleksandr Yakovlev; Gorbachev's former economic advisers Stanislav Shatalin and Nikolai Petrakov; RSFSR Vice President-elect Aleksandr Rutskoi; RSFSR Prime Minister Ivan Silaev; the head of the USSR Scientific-Industrial Union, Arkadii Vol'sky; and the mayors of Moscow and Leningrad, Gavriil Popov and Anatolii Sobchak—issued a formal statement calling on all democratic and reformist forces in the USSR to unite. Russian Television reported that the authors of the statement had announced plans to set up a committee to organize an inaugural conference of a new democratic movement—the Movement for Democratic Reforms—in opposition to the CPSU. The conference was to be held in September and would decide whether a real opposition party should be created. Nezavisimaya gazeta reported on July 2 that the nine officials had in fact already signed "a declaration on the formation of a united democratic party of the USSR." There were widespread rumors in Moscow that the new movement had been created with the approval of Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev, RFE/RL was told.