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Right Course congress passing against background of major scandals

September 15, 2011, 12:19 UTC+3
The Right Cause party opened a three-day congress in Moscow on Wednesday
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MOSCOW, September 15 (Itar-Tass) — The Right Cause party opened a three-day congress in Moscow on Wednesday. The first day ended with a public showdown between the party leader, billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov and his party fellows. Prokhorov terminated the authority of the Executive Committee head Andrei Dunayev and expelled from the party Andrei Bogdanov and brothers Alexander and Sergei Ryavkin, declaring that a raid on the party was underway. He accused an official of the RF presidential administration of leading this attack. The presidential administration called Prokhorov’s statements a fit of hysterics.

The first day the Right Cause congress was originally planned as “technical,” in particular, the delegates were to discuss the manifesto of the party, the Kommersant daily writes. Mikhail Prokhorov’s presence at it was not planned. However, as he said at an emergency press conference he called, Executive Committee head Andrei Dunayev decided in his absence to open the work of the congress and to form the credentials committee. The result was the party’s “raiding,” Prokhorov said. According to him, “unknown people appeared out of nowhere” at the congress and “official of the presidential administration Rady Khabirov was in charge of their registration as delegates.” According to Mr. Prokhorov, there were a total of 21 ‘false’ delegates. “It’s about seizing the Right Cause party in a raid. This story is very similar to the raiding of joint stock companies in the 1990s,” he said.

On Wednesday evening, Mikhail Prokhorov accused the president’s administration of an attempt to destabilise the situation in Right Cause, Nezavisimaya Gazeta writes. The stumbling block in the last days before the congress was a story with the inclusion in the party lists of head of the City Without Drugs project Yevgeny Roizman. Prokhorov stood up for the comrade, declaring his readiness to step down with him in case the pressure from the authorities increases. He accused “some officials of the presidential administration” of trying to fan a scandal around his party. And they allegedly exert pressure on the congress delegates from the regions: “There is no split in the party, there is an attempt by the presidential administration officials to take control of the Right Cause party.

Real passions ran high on the eve of the Right Cause congress around the party’s federal list, the government’s Rossiiskaya Gazeta writes. It is about Prokhorov’s desire to see among the party’s first persons “the notorious” head of City Without Drugs Yevgeny Roizman who has a criminal record.

Director-General of the Agency for Political and Economic Communications Dmitry Orlov, who was quoted by the publication, notes that the inclusion of Roizman in the lists is like a signal star for the Kremlin. “I do not know if there were those calls from the top leadership, but it is quite clear that over the past decade the Kremlin has taken a consistent and firm position to bar persons with criminal record from political office.” Orlov recalled that the Liberal Democratic Party (LDPR) at the 1999 elections also had problems with the approval of the list of candidates, among whom people with criminal record were spotted. Then the Liberal Democrats had to withdraw the list from the elections and to nominate new candidates within the “Zhirinovsky Bloc.” According to Dmitry Orlov, “regional and state politicians of Right Cause have given considerable powers to their leader, but the emergence of Yevgeny Roizman on the lists goes beyond the permissible limits.” In 2007, Roizman had already been excluded from the electoral lists of another party – Just (Fair) Russia because of his “dark past” - he served two years for theft, fraud and illegal carrying of cold steel (the conviction removed). In addition, the media have circulated a version of Roizman’s probable membership in the Uralmash gang.

Novye Izvestiya recalls that the rumours alleging that the Right Cause leader will have to leave his post appeared on Tuesday evening. Some sources in the party claimed that the Kremlin officials are dissatisfied with the electoral strategy of Mikhail Prokhorov. According to former co-chair of Right Cause Leonid Gozman, Prokhorov’s resignation is quite possible - many in the party are dissatisfied with him.

Moskovsky Komsomolets asked experts for a comment. They believe that the problem of Right Cause is not Roizman: it is just a convenient opportunity to exert pressure on the party, whose prospects have recently significantly improved. According to the VCIOM Centre for the Study of Public Opinion, the latest rating of Right Cause was 4.9 percent, which is already very close to the cherished 7-percent barrier. Meanwhile, it is yet almost three months before the elections to the State Duma, and given the colossal pre-election activity of Prokhorov, the result could be substantially higher than the current rates.

Was the whole scandal a PR play or a real political conflict of Mr. Prokhorov with the presidential administration? Komsomolskaya Pravda asks. The publication believes that it will be known on Thursday - the second day of the congress. Right Cause members said that the issue of removing Prokhorov might be raised again. However, the political show on Friday is expected to have an embellishment - Alla Pugacheva who has decided to join the party – is expected to arrive.

According to Prokhorov, on Wednesday he met with first deputy head of the presidential administration Vladislav Surkov at the Staraya Square HQ, writes RBC Daily. According to a source of the publication in the administration, Prokhorov with Surkov have “agreed on everything” and arranged to exclude Roizman from the party lists. Experts are certain that Prokhorov’s behaviour has indeed become an unpleasant surprise for the Kremlin. “I think it’s all very serious. It is practically impossible to imagine that billionaire Prokhorov is involved in a strange show, and also with the apparent confrontation with the authorities,” believes First Vice President of the Centre for Political Technologies Alexei Makarkin. The political scientist draws attention to the fact that Prokhorov obviously does not know or does not accept the rules of conduct in domestic politics: he names persons that are normally hidden from the public, he tries to act in the party in an authoritarian way, like in business. “I think that he just has not realised the seriousness of the situation. He’s used to communicate with top officials, and now they are trying to make him report to persons unknown to him,” the expert said.

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