Pro-Kremlin Youth Group Leader Launches Political Party

The Russian Justice Ministry has registered a new political party, A Smart Russia, headed by a leader of the pro-Kremlin youth group Nashi, who says his party’s main goal is to “change the way of thinking of those who rule the country.”

According to Friday’s update to the list of newly registered political parties published on the ministry website, the party was officially registered on June 27.

Nikita Borovikov, the party leader, said “several hundred people” had already joined A Smart Russia, and that new members were being admitted to the party every day.

A Smart Russia is made up of “representatives of various communities, including youth groups, who have previously met during various events such as the Seliger and the Proryv forums,” Borovikov said, referring to an annual Kremlin-backed youth event held at Lake Seliger in Russia’s central Tver region and an innovative youth conference.

Borovikov described his party’s ideology as “progressist.” Its main idea is “something needs to be changed in the country and this should be done by our generation because the previous generation has failed to do this,” he said.

When asked to elaborate, he said the main thing to be changed is “the way of thinking of people who rule the country.” He did not specify further.

Forbes reported in May, quoting a source in the federal youth agency Rosmolodyozh, that Nashi founder Vasily Yakemenko was behind the project. The report said a team of politicians and PR specialists close to President Vladimir Putin’s ally Vladislav Surkov participated in the project.

Yakemenko, who quit as Rosmolodyozh head earlier in June to create his own political party, dismissed the allegations about his involvement, saying he had nothing to do with A Smart Russia.

Borovikov said on Friday Yakemenko was working on a project which was “absolutely different” from his own party.

A Smart Russia became the 23rd newly registered political party since Russia adopted a new law in April easing registration procedures for political parties. The bill was introduced following mass street protests triggered by controversial parliamentary elections in December 2011.

The law lowered the minimum number of party members from 40,000 to 500 people.

Before the legislation was passed, only seven political parties existed in Russia, which has a population of around 143 million people.

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