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#18 - JRL 7070
BBC Monitoring
Russia's main pro-Kremlin party vows to follow voters' wishes
Source: RTR Russia TV, Moscow, in Russian 1400 gmt 19 Feb 03

[Presenter] When lists of party candidates for the election to the State Duma are drawn up by One Russia, the individual candidates' contributions to the party cause will be the main criterion. The lists will be endorsed by the forthcoming party congress in March.

Today [19 February], One Russia leaders explained to journalists how they intended to attract voters. Yevgeniy Rozhkov reports.

[Correspondent] The One Russia party is preparing for its second congress and defining its priorities. It has declared itself to be a party of the majority, so it is up to the electorate to determine the direction the party will take. One Russia leaders spoke about it at a news conference today.

In the run-up to the March congress, supporters' assemblies are to be convened throughout Russia. It is these assemblies that will formulate voters' wishes for One Russia.

[Boris Gryzlov, Russian interior minister, captioned as chairman of the supreme council of the One Russia party] We would like to consult our supporters. Over the next six weeks, we are going to have meetings and conferences with supporters in Russian regions. The first of these meetings is taking place in St Petersburg tomorrow. We would like to see diverse strata of our population among our supporters, even though the people we lean on are the golden mean, which constitutes the real middle stratum in our society. [One Russia appears reluctant to use the term "middle class".]

[Correspondent] Among those advising One Russia will be students, the military, teachers, industrialists and businessmen - all representing the so-called middle stratum. It is their advice that will become the party's platform.

And yet even now the leaders are talking about their position in Russia's political spectrum.

[Yuriy Luzhkov, mayor of Moscow, captioned as co-chairman of the supreme council of the One Russia party] We are a centrist political organization adhering to the principles of political centrism. We reject all radical ideas or solutions, which are characteristic, on the one hand, of left-wing parties, and on the other hand, [we also reject] the opposite principles that right-wing parties are guided by.

[Correspondent] Capitalist work and socially-oriented distribution are the principles proclaimed by Yuriy Luzhkov. In other words, One Russia is in favour of a market economy, yet one with social obligations. This applies to pensions too: the leaders said they were in total agreement with popular anxiety over the latest derisory increase.

As regards the administrative resources One Russia allegedly enjoys, supreme council co-chairman Sergey Shoygu said they were not the only ones. And yet the press keeps mum about the others.

[Sergey Shoygu, Russian emergencies minister, captioned as co-chairman of the supreme council of the One Russia party] All eyes are turned to One Russia. Let's cast an eye to the right and to the left! In the country's power grid, the only non-member of the Union of Right Forces appears to be a transformer. All the rest are already there. If one looks at ministers, Labour and Social Policy Minister [Aleksandr] Pochinok makes no secret of the fact that he is one of the leaders of the Union of Right Forces.

[Correspondent] As regards forecasts: the politicians have decided not to jump the gun with regard to figures in State Duma elections. They confined themselves to analysing how many supporters they would have.

[Gryzlov] I believe that, by the end of the year, party membership will at least double.

[Correspondent] Everything else is to be decided at the congress, including the makeup of the list of candidates One Russia is to enter for the election.

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