Russian nationalist Rodina party elects new leader

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Rogozin said earlier Friday that he would resign from his post but remain a party member.

MOSCOW, March 25 (RIA Novosti) - The sixth congress of the Rodina (Homeland) Party has elected Alexander Babakov as its new chairman, a member of the party's presidium said Saturday.

Andrei Savelyev said the decision was made with 172 party members voting for Babakov and three against.

Babakov, the chairman of the party's presidium and Rodina's top sponsor, replaced former leader Dmitry Rogozin, whose voluntary resignation was accepted earlier today at the party's congress.

Rogozin said earlier Friday that he would resign from his post but remain a party member.

"I ... will also ask my colleagues in the party to support the candidacy of my best friend and like-minded person Alexander Babakov for leadership in the party," he said.

Center-left nationalist bloc Rodina was banned from participating in December 4 elections to the Moscow legislature after the ultra-nationalist Liberal Democratic Party of Russia (LDPR) filed a suit with the Moscow city court alleging a Rodina television commercial incited inter-ethnic tension.

The commercial featured three dark-skinned men from the Caucasus tossing a watermelon rind at the feet of a passing Slavic girl pushing a stroller. A voice-over against the background of the Rodina emblem urged people to "remove the rubbish from Moscow."

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