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Saturday, May 1, 1999 Published at 12:38 GMT 13:38 UK

World: Europe

May Day speakers blast Nato

Thousands attended the traditionally Communist gathering

Speakers at May Day demonstrations across Russia denounced Nato air strikes on Yugoslavia, and said Russia should ignore the demands of the International Monetary Fund.

Kosovo: Special Report
May Day rallies - an official institution in Soviet days - are intended as a gesture of solidarity with workers worldwide.

Addressing a rally of thousands in Moscow, Russian Communist Party leader, Gennady Zyuganov, blamed President Boris Yeltsin for the war in the Balkans.

Mr Zyuganov said Russia should join forces with other European countries - including Germany, Italy and France - to find a solution to the Balkan crisis.

He accused US President Bill Clinton and Nato Secretary-General Javier Solana of scorning the United Nations.

'Unite against aggression'

[ image: Zyuganov: Russia should help Yugoslavia]
Zyuganov: Russia should help Yugoslavia
"All forces representing common sense in Russia should unite to stop Nato's aggression against Yugoslavia and the bloodletting in the Balkans," Mr Zyuganov told the gathering.

He said Russia was "obliged to help Yugoslavia in any way it can".

"The first stage is to stop Nato's bombing of Yugoslavia, to maintain the territorial integrity of Yugoslavia and to return the refugees," he said.

Moscow's Mayor, Yuriy Luzhkov, said Nato was responsible for genocide against the Yugoslav people, and said its actions could lead to a new world war.

'Resist the IMF'

He also said Russia should stop "kow-towing" to the International Monetary Fund, and pursue an independent economic policy.

"We have had enough of standing with a begging bowl before the IMF" , Mr Luzhkov told the rally.

Mr Luzkhov, who is also leader of the Fatherland movement, said IMF's demands to raise taxes on "our dear little vodka", as well as petrol and sales taxes, were unacceptable.

The mayor also spoke out against "wild, predatory" privatisation in Russia, saying that those responsible "would be made answerable for their crimes" .

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