Two parties in merge against Vladimir Putin
MOSCOWRussian opposition activists, who led tens of thousands of people onto the streets in anti-government rallies in recent months, merged two parties into one June 16 to strengthen their fight against President Vladimir Putin.
Mikhail Kasyanov, prime minister from 2000 to 2004 during Putin’s first term as president but now a fierce critic, and former Deputy Prime Minister Boris Nemtsov, united their People’s Freedom Party with former lawmaker Vladimir Ryzhkov’s Republican Party of Russia (RPR). “Our main goal is a change in the country’s political course. This can be achieved only via free elections,” Reuters quoted Kasyanov as saying on the sideline of a conference where party delegates created the new party RPR-PARNAS.
The opposition got a boost last December when tens of thousands of Russians took to the streets against what they said were rigged parliamentary elections won by ruling United Russia. Putin, who returned to the Kremlin in May for a six-year term, responded to the protesters by promising modest electoral reforms.