Two small liberal parties will join forces to contest Chechnya's parliamentary elections under the banner of the Republican Party, independent State Duma Deputy Vladimir Ryzhkov and liberal politician Irina Khakamada told a news conference Tuesday.
Ryzhkov, one of the Republican Party's leaders, and Khakamada, leader of the Our Choice party, said that only by uniting could liberal parties hope to form a faction in the next Chechen parliament, which is due to be elected Nov. 27.
"We are for a consolidation of all democratic forces in the country. ... With the example of Chechnya, we can see that the union and the consolidation of democratic forces is possible and much needed," Ryzhkov said.
Ryzhkov and Khakamada's announcement appeared to be more symbolic for the prospects of uniting Russia's notoriously fractious liberal parties nationwide than likely to make a big impact on the Chechen elections.
Ryzhkov said talks with Yabloko and SPS would "very likely" result in them backing the Republican Party's list.
Khakamada said that liberal forces should focus more on regional elections. "With the example of Chechnya, we can see what threatens Russia. The power vertical can still work at the federal level, but at a local level it is falling apart," she said.
Ryzhkov said that with the help of independent human right activists and organizations, the liberals would monitor the elections to register any fraud.
Abdullah Istamulov, head of the Center for Strategic Investigations and Development of Civil Society in the North Caucasus, told the news conference that the federal authorities were also interested in having democratic elections in Chechnya.
"Chechnya is the prism through which the West views Russia. Our authorities are well aware of that and are not interested in having dirty elections," Istamulov said.
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