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Three of Russia's smaller political parties are poised to merge
Three of Russia's smaller political parties are poised to merge, a party leader and the speaker of Russia's upper chamber of parliament said Tuesday. Sergei Mironov, who leads the Party of Life and is speaker of the Federation Council, said the move would unite the left-leaning Party of Life and Rodina (Motherland) with the Party of Pensioners. "We have one aim: to create a new, serious political force that would be stronger than each party individually," Rodina leader Alexander Babakov told a news conference. Neither the Party of Life nor the Pensioners won enough votes in the 2003 election to take up seats in the lower chamber of parliament, the State Duma. Although Rodina, running as an electoral bloc with a campaign focusing on the disparity between many ordinary people and tycoons, stormed into the Duma at the first attempt with just over 9% of the vote, it has since been best by problems. Leaders have come and gone, and it courted controversy with a television advertisement in the campaign for the Moscow legislature this year that was called overtly racist by many and was eventually banned. Mironov, who alongside Babakov was also joined by Party of Pensioners chairman Igor Zotov, said a working name of "Motherland, Pensioners, Life - a Union of Trust" had been chosen for the new organization. However, all three leaders dismissed the suggestion that the new party was a Kremlin project. Media speculated over the summer a new, controllable left-wing party could be established at the behest of the Kremlin authorities. The Federation Council speaker said the new party would take up opposition to United Russia, the current "party of power," which holds a massive majority in the Duma. "We oppose the very essence of United Russia as the monopoly political force of the part of power," said Mironov, who is thought to be close to President Vladimir Putin. "We are in favor of a genuine multi-party system in Russia and, therefore, are in opposition to United Russia," he said.
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