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New 'Just Russia' Party Says Putin Knows Best

Published: October 31, 2006 (Issue # 1217)

Russia over the weekend became possibly the first country in history with a two-party system in which both parties share the same overriding principle — that the executive is always right.With the merger Saturday of the Party of Life, the Rodina party and the Party of Pensioners, the system appears in place.

The new party, Just Russia: Motherland, Pensioners, Life, is to play the role of the center-left opposition. Its rival is to be the established, center-right United Russia.

"If United Russia is the party of power, we will become the party of the people," said Federation Council Chairman Sergei Mironov, who was elected Just Russia's leader Saturday.

"We will follow the course of President Vladimir Putin and will not allow anyone to veer from it after Putin leaves his post in 2008," Mironov said.

Mironov's comments came at a convention creating Just Russia.

At separate simultaneous conventions in Moscow, delegates from the Party of Life and the Party of Pensioners voted to strip their groups of party status, enabling members to apply for membership in Rodina.

Delegates at the conventions then voted to change Rodina's name to Just Russia. Rodina was selected as the core group of the new coalition party because it is the only one of the trio with seats in the State Duma, Rodina leader Alexander Babakov said.

Also on Saturday, Babakov was elected secretary of Just Russia's presidium, and Igor Zotov, leader of the Party of Pensioners, became secretary of its political council.

Despite varying widely in size, the parties were allotted equal shares of seats on the new party's governing panels.

Putin sent congratulations, saying the creation of Just Russia was "proof of a growing creative potential in Russian society."

The new party will hold a convention early next year to adopt a charter, and it will be registered soon after, giving Just Russia enough time to compete in regional legislature elections in March, Mironov said.

Using rhetoric similar to that of the Communist Party, Mironov said Just Russia sought to siphon votes away from the Communists by defending "the interests of working people." Fair hourly wages, pension reform and a more equitable distribution of the wealth derived from natural resources top the party's agenda, he said.

Mironov also decried United Russia's monopoly, as he sees it, of the nation's political, economic and "administrative" resources.

Noting that Rodina and the Party of Life were Kremlin concoctions, Vladimir Pribylovsky, an analyst with the Panorama think tank, said the party would play a dual role. "It's the party of the president's left foot complementing the right foot of United Russia," he said. "It is also a party of the opposition of the master's maid to the master's butler."



Wednesday, Jan. 28

Feel like becoming a publishing mogul? Stop by the Freedom anti-cafe at 7 Ulitsa Kazanskaya today at 8 p.m. where Simferopol, Crimea-based founder and chief editor of the Holst online magazine will talk about creating an internet magaine, including what stories to cover, how find an audience and build a team, where to find inspiration and how to stand out from the crowd. Admission is the normal price of the anti-café — 2 rubles per minute, which includes tea and snacks.

Learn everything you always wanted to know about wine, and perhaps a bit more, at the Le Nez du Vin seminar for wine lovers. Held at the WineJet Sommelier School, 100 Bolshoy Prospekt Petrograd Side, at 7:30 p.m., the event will cover wine production, the basics of wine tasting, the concept of terroir and the various countries where wine is produced. Tickets are 750 rubles and include a wine tasting. Register by calling +7 921 744 6264.

Thursday, Jan. 29

Attend a master class on how to deal with complicated business negotiations today at the International Banking Institute, 6 Malaya Sadovaya Ulitsa. Running from 3 to 6 p.m., Vadim Sokolov, an assistant professor at the St. Petersburg State University of Economics, will introduce aspects of managing the negotiation process and increasing its effectiveness. Attendance is free with pre-registration by telephone on 909 3056 or online at

Celebrate what would be writer Anton Chekhov's 155th birthday at the Bokvoed bookshop at 46 Nevsky Prospekt. Starting at 5 p.m., the legendary author will be feted with readings of his stories and short performances based on his plays by various St. Petersburg actors. Chekhov's books will also be offered at a 15% discount during the event.

Friday, Jan. 30

The Lermontov Central Library, 19 Liteyny Prospekt, will screen 'Almost Famous’ in English with Russian subtitles at 6:30 p.m. Cameron Crowe's Academy Award-winning comedy from 2000 stars Billy Crudup, Kate Hudson, and Patrick Fugit, and tells the story of a budding music journalist at Rolling Stone magazine in the 1970s. Admission is free.

Meet renowned Russian poet, journalist and writer Dmitry Bykov, famous for his biographies of Boris Pasternak, Bulat Okudzhava and Maxim Gorky, and winner of 2006 National Bestseller Award. Bykov will read old and new poems as well as answer questions about his works at the St. Petersburg Philharmonic, Main Hall, at 7 p.m. Tickets start at 1,000 rubles and are available at city ticket offices and the from the Philharmonic website

A retrospective of the films of Roman Polanski starts today at Loft-Project Etagi, 74 Ligovsky Prospekt, with a screening of ‘Repulsion’ at 7 p.m. and ‘Rosemary’s Baby’ at 9:15 p.m. The series runs through Feb. 4 and will include Polanski's eminently creepy ‘The Tenant,’ the cult comedy ‘The Fearless Vampire Killers’ and ‘Cul-de-sac’ among others. Tickets are 150-200 rubles and the complete schedule is available at

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