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#13 - JRL 7255
gazeta.ru
July 18, 2003
Liberals set to secretly influence Putin
Yelena Shishkounova, Maria Tsvetkova

One of Russias leading liberal parties, the Union of Rightist Forces (SPS), has yet to decide who will become No.3 on the list of leaders to enter the State Duma should they manage to clear the 5 per cent threshold. They intend to decide at a conference on September 8, the partys governing body said after holding a closed session on Thursday evening.

One of the main tasks of the SPS conference will be the approval of the party election lists, particularly the three leading candidates. At the same time, as the SPS spokesperson Yelena Dikun told Gazeta.Ru, the conference may postpone the discussion for several days if President Putin signs the decree on elections to the State Duma on the very last day before the deadline, set by law for September 7.

''In this case we will adjourn the conference for several days and will wait for the bill to be published, because the election lists may be approved only after that [decree comes into effect],'' Dikun said.

In 1999 the list of the three leading SPS candidates included Boris Nemtsov, Irina Khakamada and Sergei Kiriyenko, sacked a year earlier from the prime ministers post in the wake of the August 1998 financial crisis.

Even the SPS leadership cannot say who the third person will be this time. ''I cannot say. Maybe, even me. At any rate, call me if you learn something, I will be very grateful,'' a well-known SPS activist told Gazeta.Ru. In the meantime, in the opinion of the same source, the third figure on the list must be decisive. ''It is one thing if there is a businessman in the first troika, and quite another if it is a former official at the federal level.''

Interestingly, in comparison to previous parliamentary elections, SPS is in danger of not meeting the deadline set for determining its three leaders. In summer 1999, before the December elections, Moscows streets were adorned with billboards of Boris Nemtsov, Irina Khakamada and Boris Fyodrov. In August Fyodorov was replaced by Kiriyenko after his bloc joined, forming the Union of Rightist Forces.

Judging by the outcome of Thursdays political council, the position of Alfred Kokh, appointed the partys top election campaigner earlier this year, has grown even stronger. Henceforth, in addition to his main job of managing the campaign, the notorious chief of Montes Auri will be in charge of issuing the partys paper Pravoye Delo, in the capacity of acting chief editor. Moreover, he will take part in the work of the freshly established think-tank for the implementation of Vladimir Putins initiatives, headed by presidential aide Igor Shuvalov.

In addition to Kokh, the rightists have also decided to dispatch Vladimir Mau, the head of the Academy for National Economy to the group. While Mau will be solving the main task the group is faced with doubling GDP in line with Putins wishes Kokh, according to sources in SPS, will ensure some behind-the-scenes SPS influence on the election campaign of Putin himself.

Another important decision taken by the partys political council on Thursday was to support Zalina Medoyeva at the gubernatorial elections in the Leningrad Region. Medoyeva heads the local SPS branch, which nominated her to the governors post.

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