Two leading Russian opposition parties have held a joint congress and agreed to join forces to force new legislative and presidential elections.
The People's Freedom Party -- headed by former Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov and former Deputy Prime Minister Boris Nemtsov -- merged with the Republican Party, headed by former Duma Deputy Vladimir Ryzhkov, to create the new party, called RPR-PARNAS.
Because the new party is the successor party of the People's Freedom Party, which was legally registered by the Justice Ministry, it should be allowed to participate in future elections.
Representatives of the liberal Yabloko party attended the congress as observers and pledged to work with the new formation to push for new elections as soon as possible.
The new party declared the 2011 and 2012 elections invalid and the current legislature and president illegitimate.
Based on reporting by Reuters, ITAR-TASS, and Interfax