Russian Opposition Forces Meet to Discuss Unification

St. Petersburg.  Source: photoregion.ruOn April 5th, Russian opposition forces of all stripes came together to discuss the possibility of broad-based collaboration. At a St. Petersburg conference titled the “New Agenda For Liberal Forces,” participants hailing from liberal political parties and independent groups met to discuss the serious challenges facing Russia today, and to consider coming together into one unified bloc.

The first major outcome of the meeting is a new planning group, which will prepare a congress of all the democratic forces in Russia.

The group will be led by a group of notable Russian figures, including Nikita Belykh of the Union of Right Forces, Denis Bilunov, Garry Kasparov and Aleksandr Ryklin of the United Civil Front, renowned dissident and author Vladimir Bukovsky, economist Vladimir Milov, independent politician Boris Nemtsov, Lev Ponomarev of the “For Human Rights” movement, Maxim Reznik of the St. Petersburg branch of Yabloko, Yury Samodurov of the Sakharov museum, and Ilya Yashin of the Yabloko youth wing. The congress of democratic forces may meet as early at this fall, after the groups hold regional conferences and decide which delegates to send to the meeting.

Conference participants also enacted a joint resolution to form a broad-based socio-political movement. The new movement would work to foster collaboration between all existing democratic forces in Russia, and would consolidate their individual efforts. The resolution calls for “kind and respectful relations between participants of the process” and asks members to abstain from “any unfriendly public controversy.” The movement also anticipates collective leadership.

At the same time, participants of the movement are prepared to deal with Russian authorities on a number of topics, including stopping censorship, the dismantling of authoritarianism, the defense of citizen’s rights and freedoms, the defense of citizen’s social interests, and the release of political prisoners. “On the one hand we assert that in meeting with authorities, our principles and demands cannot be a bargaining chip and we will never trade loyalty for financial support or career appointments. On the other hand, we assert that we will act with peaceful, non-violent methods in our civic opposition,” the resolution reads.

As a whole, conference-goers told the Sobkor®ru news agency that the meeting was a success, and that they were proud of the day’s achievements.