MOSCOW, March 16 (Itar-Tass) — The withdrawal of the unregistered People’s Freedom Party (PARNAS) from the working group to finalise the draft laws on political reform will not affect the quality of its work, Chairman of the lower house of Russia’s parliament Sergei Naryshkin told journalists on Friday.
“As regards the participation of non-parliamentary parties in the discussion of that or other issues that are debated by the State Duma, we plan to continue this practice the same as it was at a meeting of the house, when the package of the presidential bills on the political system reform was discussed,” the Duma speaker confirmed.
PARNAS is a Russian liberal democratic political party founded on 13 December 2010 by opposition politicians Vladimir Ryzhkov, Boris Nemtsov, Mikhail Kasyanov and Vladimir Milov. The name is a reference to the original liberal democratic Party of Popular Freedom. The party is strongly critical of Putin’s regime. It’s stated goal is to return Russia to the path of democracy and restore respect for the Constitution.
Responding to a question about the PARNAS’ refusal to participate in Friday’s meeting of the State Duma’s relevant committee on NGO affairs, at which an amendment to the bill on political parties will be considered, Naryshkin expressed confidence that this will have absolutely “no effect on the quality” (of preparations for the second reading of the document). “I can only express my regret that someone from the non-system opposition is not ready to participate in this constructive dialogue with their colleagues from the same non-system opposition, as well as with representatives of parliamentary and non-parliamentary parties,” he added.
PARNAS co-chair Boris Nemtsov told Itar-Tass earlier that following a 10-day arrest of the working group member Sergei Udaltsov (leader of the Left Front) and a sentence of five years in jail given to Alexei Kozlov (entrepreneur, husband of one of the organisers of the protest rallies - journalist Olga Romanova) the party representatives came to the conclusion that they could not “continue to work in this group, it would be strike-breaking, the authorities should release political prisoners.”
The working group under the leadership of Volodin was established after f Russian President Dmitry Medvedev’s meetings with the leadership of Russia’s registered political parties. Later, representatives of the parties that are not officially registered were invited to participate in its work. The tasks of the group include working on amendments to the package of draft laws on political reform submitted by the Russian president to the State Duma.