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RPR-PARNAS Republican Party of Russia – People's Freedom Party

RPR-PARNAS, formally known as the Republican Party of Russia – People's Freedom Party, was founded in 1990. It was a torchbearer for the liberal anti-Kremlin opposition during much of Putin’s reign in the 2000s, despite being denied formal registration as a political party – and thus a place on the ballots – from 2007 to 2011. The party endorsed the mass anti-Putin protests of 2011-2013, but its leaders largely lost the public spotlight to a new generation of politicians, Navalny in particular. The party had to battle accusations of ineffectiveness from many protesters at the street rallies.

Russia’s Justice Ministry registered the Republican Party of Russia – People’s Freedom Party (RPR-PARNAS) political party on 02 august 2012, comprising the former People's Freedom Party and the Republican Party. The new party - which was created after a merger during the wave of recent anti-Kremlin protests - could allow some of Russia’s most well-known liberal opposition leaders to once again contest elections.

The party endorsed the mass anti-Putin protests of 2011-2013, but its leaders largely lost the public spotlight to a new generation of politicians, Navalny in particular. The party had to battle accusations of ineffectiveness from many protesters at the street rallies.

Boris Nemtsov – one of Vladimir Putin’s most fierce critics, former Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov, Vladimir Ryzhkov and Vladimir Milov agreed to set up Parnas in 2010. The party’s co-chairs – each of whom led their own political movement – decided to create the coalition in order to increase the chance of right-wingers being elected to the State Duma.

In August 2012 Boris Nemtsov said Russian President Vladimir Putin had used the power he wielded at the Kremlin to acquire for his personal use palaces, yachts, planes and other property that really belongs to the state. Nemtsov said the president has been mixing his property together with the state's for a long time, and "thinks it all belongs to him."

In a 2013 report, titled “Winter Olympics in the Subtropics: Corruption and Abuse in Sochi,” Russian opposition politician Boris Nemtsov alleged that out of the more than $50 billion spent on Sochi, “the total scale of the embezzlement is about $25-30 billion or about 50-60 percent of the stated final cost of the Russian Olympics.”

One of three co-leaders of Russia’s most prominent liberal opposition party resigned 08 February 2014, ending a long-running ideological split. Vladimir Ryzhkov said that he left RPR-PARNAS after the other two members of the triumvirate, Boris Nemtsov and Mikhail Kasyanov, removed him from a senior post in the party’s political council. Ryzhkov called his removal from the party’s political council “a complete surprise" and said that 15 other RPR-PARNAS members also quit in solidarity. He did not indicate any future plans. Ryzhkov, 47, a native of the Altai Region in Siberia and a historian by education, headed RPR-PARNAS from 2006. An unwavering liberal, he was active in Russian politics for more than two decades, sitting in the State Duma from 1993 to 2007.

The development marked another stage in the hapless opposition’s long-term decline, which has been exacerbated over the years by internecine struggles over aims and strategy. A rift at the party was first reported in 2013. Ryzhkov disapproved of his fellow leaders' willingness to ally with the left and nationalists, including popular, rabble-rousing politician Alexei Navalny. Nemtsov and Kasyanov criticized Ryzhkov for meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Opposition activists and anti-war demonstrators marched in the Russian capital 21 September 2014, urging peace in Ukraine and an end to Russia's military support for separatists, even though the Kremlin denies backing the rebels. Organizers of the march said over 50,000 people took to the streets in Moscow, but police claimed the number was exaggerated, putting it instead at 5,000.

Opposition leader and peace march organizer Boris Nemtsov said Putin "lies in revenge for Ukraine's revolution, when Ukrainians took to the streets and dethroned the corrupt thief president Yanukovych. [Putin] is afraid it could be repeated in Russia. And, besides, he thinks if Ukraine is successful on the European path it is a threat to his own power".

Boris Nemtsov wrote 18 February 2015. “Putin continues to lie and clown around, saying the Ukrainian army is losing out to local miners and tractor drivers. Why is he doing this? Trying to humiliate 76th paratroopers brigade who fought in Donbas and some of whom perished there? Or, as the commander-in-chief, he is willing to humiliate the servicemen of the 31st paratroopers brigade from Ulyanovsk, 17th, 18th and 9th infantry brigades as well as 136th brigade from Bujnaks now fighting – and dying - in Ukraine?"

Nemtsov said he was not afraid of the authorities and would continue to attend demonstrations marking the freedom of assembly. Politician Boris Nemtsov was shot dead in Moscow on 27 February 2015. He was shot four times in the back on a large stone bridge in Moscow in front of the Kremlin. This came two weeks after he told a Russian newspaper that, like his mother, he was afraid that Vladimir Putin would have him killed.

In an open letter to the leaders of PARNAS and the Yabloko Party, prominent Russian public figures, human rights activists, and scholars called on the two parties to unite in the forthcoming State Duma elections. The activists published a second appeal to the general public, calling on them to support such cooperation. Both were published together in Novaya Gazeta on 23 February 2016.

In March 2016 a Russian district court in Ryazan sentenced the leader of the local PARNAS branch, Yuriy Bogomolov, to 250 hours of community services for insulting judges on social media. According to investigators, in August of 2015, Bogomolov posted on the Russian social network site VKontakte, in which he “publicly insulted and degraded the honor and dignity of the authorities” of the judges of the Moscow District Court of Ryazan.

A Russian judge gave prominent opposition leader Alexei Navalny a five year suspended sentence after he was convicted 07 February 2017 of embezzlement, a decision that may prevent him from running in next year's presidential election. Navalny said he would appeal the sentence and would still run for president against Vladimir Putin, should Putin decide to seek another term in office.




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