Just Russia party facing hard times

MOSCOW, August 5 (Itar-Tass) — After leader of Just Russia Sergei Mironov left the post of speaker of the Federation Council upper house of parliament, the party fell on hard times. Some influential party members are leaving for the All-Russia Popular Front (ONF) created around the United Russia, party while others are looking at Right Cause. One of the most influential members of the Just Russia faction in the State Duma, a friend of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin Vasily Shestakov on Thursday officially announced he joins the ONF. Previously, several other prominent party members joined the ONF.

Vasily Shestakov told Kommersant that he runs in the primaries, which are “open to all” as a “self-nominee,” is “at the present moment” a member of Just Russia, and continues to “defend the socialist views.” He will make a decision on possible quitting the party and joining United Russia on the results of the primaries by the end of August. However, he stated that he supports the position of vice-speaker of the State Duma Alexander Babakov and other Just Russia members who said that decisions in the party are made “arbitrarily and behind the scenes” have been populist of late.

Shestakov’s withdrawal is a landmark event for Just Russia, given his long friendship with Vladimir Putin: In St. Petersburg they were sparring partners in Judo and were trained together by the famous coach Anatoly Rakhlin. On Thursday, Shestakov said he did not discuss his political plans with the prime minister.

The newspaper noted that State Duma members Elmira Glubokovskaya and Yelena Vtorygina have decided to join the ONF. Also on Thursday Babakov’s party ally, MP Mikhail Starshinov officially announced that he is joining the ONF. However, according to Just Russia sources, not only the ONF, but also Right Cause are trying to lure away its most influential members.

The half-disintegration of the Just Russia party has gone beyond all ideas of electoral permutations, believes Moskosvkiye Novosti (Moscow News). After vice speaker of the Duma, former leader of the Motherland party Alexander Babakov, Just Russia member Yelena Vtorygina who in May ceded her deputy mandate to the party leader Sergei Mironov, also left. Deputy Kira Lukyanova has confirmed to the newspaper her intention to run for the Duma on lists of other electoral association, and another four Just Russia MPs are in questions. It gives an impression that the party is falling apart by leaps and bounds, the newspaper noted.

The Communists are openly talking about the potential return to the Communist Party (CPRF) of current Just Russia members Yelena Drapeko and Svetlana Goryacheva. Oleg Shein may also join them, head of the CPRF legal department Duma MP Vadim Solovyov confirmed to Moscow News.

“I think it is so far the settlement of the lists, which cannot be called a systemic collapse,” deputy director of the Centre for Political Technologies Alexei Makarkin is quoted by the publication. “Vtorygina – it’s upsetting, she has strong positions in the Arkhangelsk region. Others are trying not to miscalculate. Time is running out for the formation of the lists, and everyone wants to understand which strategy is optimal.”

The process of withdrawal from Just Russia became massive after the VCIOM public opinion centre published its latest electoral outlook – according to the it, Just Russia is balancing on the brink of passage to the Duma and can count on a maximum 7.3 percent of the votes, or 37 seats in the lower house against the present 38.

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