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Former Russian Premier Leaves Opposition Group

Kasyanov at an opposition protest in Moscow in April (RFE/RL) MOSCOW, July 3, 2007 (RFE/RL) -- Former Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov has left the opposition group Other Russia due to the group's failure to agree on a single presidential candidate, RFE/RL's Russian Service reported.

Speaking to supporters on July 2, Kasyanov said the Other Russia, a disparate opposition coalition led by former world chess champion Garry Kasparov, has "fulfilled its mission" and that a more decisive stage in Russia's struggle is about to begin.

In an interview with RFE/RL's Russian Service, Kasparov said that Kasyanov's real problem with Other Russia was that he wanted to be named Other Russia's unified opposition candidate while other members of the coalition wanted a free competition.

Kasparov added that having such the "predictable" process for selecting a candidate that Kasyanov wanted would be inconsistent with the principles of a democratic coalition that is trying to battle President Vladimir Putin's undemocratic regime.

Other Russia -- which has held a series of anti-Kremlin protests in Moscow, St. Petersburg, and other Russian cities -- is scheduled to hold a conference on July 7-8.

Kasyanov, who has announced his intention to run in the March 2008 presidential election, is due to address the first congress of his new political party, the People for Democracy and Justice party, on July 10.

During Kasyanov's recent visit to Nizhny Novgorod to meet supporters, activists from the pro-Kremlin youth groups Nashi and the Young Guards followed and harassed him. Some of the activists chanted slogans, including: "Kasyanov. Suitcase. Train Station. America." and "Misha Go Home" outside Kasyanov's hotel

(with material from agency reports)

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