There is no formal ruling party. Over two dozen parties are legally registered, though all are small and some are inactive. Fewer than one-half of legislators claim party affiliation. Pro-Akayev parties include the Birimdik (Unity) Party, and the Adilet (Justice) Party (formed by writer Chingiz Aitmatov in October 1999). The main "constructive opposition" party is the People's Party. Among other parties, the Party of Communists (PCK; headed by Masaliyev) calls for reunification with Russia. The Erkin (Free) Kyrgyzstan Progressive Democratic Party calls for elevating the rights of ethnic Kyrgyz. Democratic Movement calls for democratic socialism. Erkin Kyrgyzstan, Asaba, the Social Democratic Party, Unity, Democratic Movement, My Country, and others decided in July 1999 to form a bloc to contest the legislative elections. The Dignity Party, headed by Felix Kulov (former vice president, security minister, and Bishkek mayor) was formed in August 1999. The electoral code forbade parties from taking part in the February 2000 legislative races unless they were more than one year old, eliminating eight new parties. The Central Electoral Commission in late 1999 also declared the People's, Citizens of Bishkek, Labor-Popular, and the People of Manas Parties disqualified on technicalities from taking part in the race. Religious parties are banned. Regional interests are important in the political process. The Kyrgyz leadership reportedly favors interests of the Chu region. Ten major opposition parties formed a broad coalition, the People's Patriotic Movement, in April 2001. The ability of this opposition coalition to provide an effective counter-weight to President Akayev and his supporters remains unproven. Feliks Kulov was sentenced to 10 years' imprisonment in May 2002 on embezzlement charges.