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Russia: Opposition Opens Parallel Parliament, Decries 'Monopoly On Power'

Russian opposition leader Garry Kasparov has formally launched an alternative parliament aimed at the "restoration of democracy and popular government in Russia."

The National Assembly, the brainchild of Kasparov's Other Russia coalition, is intended as a sort of parallel parliament to the State Duma and will be comprised of delegates from grassroots organizations from across the country.

Addressing several hundred activists attending the meeting in central Moscow, Kasparov accused Russian authorities of creating a "feudal fiefdom." He also criticized mainstream opposition parties that did not attend the assembly, such as Yabloko and the Union of Rightist Forces (SPS).

Eduard Limonov, who also heads the Other Russia coalition, said former Russian President, and now Prime Minister, Vladimir Putin and his allies want to keep power forever. "We want to destroy the monopoly on power," he said.

In addition to Kasparov and Limonov, the delegate list includes former presidential economy adviser Andrei Illarionov; former government economy adviser Mikhail Delyagin; and former Central Bank Chairman Viktor Gerashchenko.

A founding charter blames the authorities for "taking the country to the brink of national disaster" and reaffirms the inviolability of fundamental human rights, including freedom of speech, of assembly, and of conscience.

The document contains a renunciation of violence or the threat of violence for political ends. It also renounces the restriction of freedom of speech or assembly for political purposes.

The move is seen as the latest attempt by Kasparov to unite Russia's opposition against Putin and his successor, Dmitry Medvedev.

Compiled from agency reports

Copyright (c) 2008. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.

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