Ryzhkov Quits RPR-Parnas Opposition Party
Published: February 12, 2014 (Issue # 1797)
A leader of Russia’s main liberal opposition party, RPR-Parnas, quit over the weekend with a group of senior supporters in a move that some say could be beneficial to the Kremlin and lead to the party’s dismissal.
Vladimir Ryzhkov handed his membership cancellation letter to the other two party co-chairmen, Boris Nemtsov and Mikhail Kasyanov, at a meeting of the party’s federal council on Feb. 8, and about 15 members of the political council followed him, media reports said.
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Ryzhkov’s move came after a standoff with Nemtsov and Kasyanov that lasted several months over their reluctance to negotiate with the Kremlin and their support of opposition leader Alexei Navalny, who is known for his links to nationalists.
Ryzhkov resigned after Nemtsov and Kasyanov decided to dismiss him as the party’s official representative to the authorities and apply sanctions to nine party members for criticism of Nemtsov’s and Kasyanov’s vehement opposition to cooperating with authorities.
“This was a declaration of war, a crackdown on me and my supporters, there was no point in tolerating it anymore,” Ryzhkov told Vedomosti in a story published Feb. 8.
Nemtsov told journalists on Feb. 8 that the Kremlin was “definitely a beneficiary in the whole story” but said Ryzhkov was “not an instrument in the hands of the authorities for destroying RPR-Parnas,” Kommersant reported.
Nemtsov and Kasyanov fear that a number of the party’s regional branches may withdraw their membership following Ryzhkov’s departure.
“An apocalyptic scenario does exist: If too many regional branches leave the party, we may just as well liquidate it,” Nemtsov said.
Kasyanov told journalists on Saturday that the party cannot hold on to its members by force.
“If someone wants to go after Ryzhkov, they can do it,” he said, Interfax reported.
Calls to the cell phones of Ryzhkov, Nemtsov and Kasyanov on Sunday went unanswered.
Political analysts on Sunday seemed to shrug off the significance of Ryzhkov’s departure, dismissing Nemtsov’s statement that the Kremlin might benefit from the rift in RPR-Parnas and noting that the party’s role in politics was a minor one.
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