MOSCOW, JULY 18 -- Moscow Deputy Mayor Sergei Stankevich and six other prominent Soviet officials resigned from the ruling Communist Party today, the latest in a wave of departures that is changing the shape of politics here.
"Hopes for radical transformation of the Communist Party in the foreseeable future are unrealistic," said a statement signed by the seven and read at a press conference. "We have made our choice by deciding to leave the party in order to promote the process of democratization and renovation of society."
The departing members include Yuri Ryzhov, a member of the executive body of the national legislature, and Mikhail Bocharev, a senior economic adviser to the legislature of the vast Russian republic. They and the 36-year-old Stankevich were considered among the more promising of the party's young leaders.
The departure of the radical-reform politicians from the party follows closely that of a host of other prominent party members and came despite indications by Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev that he intends to liberalize the long-ruling 19-million-member organization.
More than 130,000 rank-and-file members have left the 19-million-member party so far this year -- including Boris Yeltsin, the president of the Russian republic, who announced his resignation at the landmark 28th Communist Party Congress here last week.
The resignation of Yeltsin, a populist with a wide following among party reform advocates, was followed by those of leading members of Democratic Platform, the party's reform wing, and the mayors of Moscow and Leningrad. Those who quit today said they would consider joining with others to form a new party.