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Three Russian Leftist Parties Announce Merger

Party of Pensioners lead Igor Zotov, Party of Life head Sergei Mironov, and Motherland leader Aleksandr Babakov (left to right) at a press conference in Moscow on August 29 (ITAR-TASS) August 29, 2006 -- Three Russian leftist parties, the Party of Life, Motherland (Rodina), and the Party of Pensioners, announced plans to merge today.

Party leaders said the new party would be in opposition to the Kremlin-backed Unified Russia party, but would support President Vladimir Putin's policies.

"We support the course laid out in Russian President Vladimir Putin's message to the Federal Assembly, but we oppose a political monopoly and the monopoly of one political party in Russia as the president's message is being implemented," said Sergei Mironov, the leader of the Party of Life and the speaker of the Federation Council, the upper house of parliament,

No name for the new party has been chosen yet, but Mironov said a working name would keep the key words from the names of the constituent parties.

He also said the new party would run in the 2007 parliamentary elections and hopes to become a "majority party." Currently only Motherland holds seats in the State Duma, the lower house of parliament.

All three leaders dismissed the suggestion that the new structure was a Kremlin project, despite speculation that it is being formed to draw votes away from the Communist Party.

(RIA Novosti, ITAR-TASS, Interfax)

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