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A Just Russia party opening hostilities against ‘power-wielding party’

August 24, 2012, 16:14 UTC+3 Alexandrova Lyudmila

A Just Russia Party, which started out at the Kremlin’s behest as a second power-wielding party and which occupied the niche of a systemic semi-oppositionist force later, has laid a course at an open confrontation with the ruling United Russia Party.

A Just Russia describes itself as a party in the Social Democratic section of the political spectrum. Although it is implementing a moderate oppositionist course, there are a handful of irreconcilables in its ranks.

The top three -- businessman Gennady Gudkov, his son Dmitry and Ilya Ponomaryov – are members of the State Duma, the lower house of parliament. All of them took an active part in the mass political actions of protest sponsored by civic society organizations earlier this year, although A Just Russia stayed away from them officially.

These highly popular representatives of the party have plunged into an open confrontation with the authorities, thus forcing the party leadership to drift towards a more radical stance, too.

The situation around Gennady Gudkov, whom the Investigations Committee of Russia has accused of illegal commercial operations, is poised to grow over into a smear war.

MPs representing A Just Russia plan to launch the publication of “documents on the illicit revenues, properties and financial assets of the United Russia MPs from both houses of parliament and state officials” as of next week, Dmitry Gudkov said. This means that in essence A Just Russia has opened hostilities against the power-wielding party.

According to Dmitry Gudkov, information on five members of the United Russia having multi-million revenues will be uploaded in the Internet every day. “There are millions, hundreds of millions, billions of rubles in revenues,” he said. “They come from involvement in joint-stock companies and large holding companies.”

“Let our citizens see that the United Russia members own motor ships, control impressive packages of shares and so on and so forth along with occupying senior executive positions at commercial companies and without stepping down from official posts,” Gudkov Jr. said.

He gave the assurances that all the information has been obtained legally.

Gudkov Jr. believes that the publicizing of this data may produce a considerable change in the attitudes of the public at large towards United Russia, as some of the people within its ranks “are owners of factories, steamships, big companies, and stocks of share.”

He called on everyone to take part in proliferation of the data.

“Maybe, this will help in some way to stop repressions and to organize a dialogue with the powers that be,” Gudkov Jr. said.

It is quite clear that Dmitry is counterattacking the law enforcement agencies for an attack on his father, who reportedly combines the duties of an MP with entrepreneurial activities.

The Investigations Committee has classified this as evidence of illegal commercial operations (punishable under Article 289 of the Criminal Code).

The State Duma will study the investigators’ materials on MP Gudkov Sr. at the beginning of September and may strip him of the parliamentary mandate as early as September 12.

In the meantime, the Izvestia daily claims the oppositionists do not have any special information for the time being to produce a public uproar. Their data bases ostensibly contain the data commonly accessible for the public at large.

A source inside the United Russia party told Izvestia that the discharge of damaging evidence will take place anyway and the ruling party has already engineered a line of action should these infringements take place in reality.

“If A Just Russia does find any compromising data, the cases of some or other MPs will be considered inside the United Russia party organization and tough measures will be taken on them,” the source said.

Gudkov father and son and Ponomaryov have put forward one more initiative. They propose to set up an AntiGulag movement that will play the role of “an umbrella organization for various human rights groups.”

Gennady Gudkov has specified some of the new organization’s goals. They include “the curbing of the law enforcers’ outrage,” since according to him dozens of thousands of people are subjected to political repressions in Russia these days.

Gudkov Sr. did not specify the methods, with the aid of which a purely nonpolitical organization – and that is the way he described the new movement – will control “the machinery of repression”. He said along with it that “widely acclaimed and highly respected personalities” will be invited, whose named he declined to specify, will be invited to take seats on AntiGulag’s organizing committee, the formation of which will begin in September.

Gudkov Sr. said with confidence that Russia is reverting to political repressions nowadays and the reversion started during the opposition’s street rally May 6, 2012.

“The law enforcement machine and the agencies that should be serving law are turning into a new NKVD today,” he said referring to the notorious secret police of the first decades of the Soviet era.

According to Gudkov, the Investigations Committee is the biggest villain of the piece. “The Federal Security Service /FSB/ is fighting with the opposition, not with terrorists,” said Gudkov Sr. who has the rank of an FSB colonel.

“As for the police, they’re turning into the servants of the repressions machine,” he said.

Nezavissimaya Gazeta quotes in this connection the director of the Center for Political Technologies, Boris Makarenko, who says that Gennady Gudkov’s oppositionist reputation will benefit from the utilization of the theme of repressions and injustice.

“If he’s really stripped of the parliamentary mandate, he’ll become a moral leader of the movement he is setting up,” Makarenko said

Former Speaker of the upper house of parliament, Serge Mironov, who leads A Just Russia party and who occupies far more moderate positions, said the party will defend Gudkov Sr. although he personally does not vest much faith in the success of the latter man’s venture.

“I realize that, in most likelihood, he will be stripped of the mandate September 12 by the United Russia majority vote and the Liberal Democratic Party /LDPR/ deputies who will take sides with it,” he told the Echo of Moscow liberal radio.

Still Mironov said the party will not use any unlawful methods as it defends Gennady Gudkov. “There’s a variety of options and we’ll use them,” he said.

Moscow, August 24