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Leader of 'extremist' Russian party calls for united opposition

MOSCOW, January 15 (RIA Novosti) - The leader of the banned National Bolshevik Party called on Thursday on two other opposition leaders to unite their efforts.

In a letter posted on the website of the outlawed party, Eduard Limonov said that Garry Kasparov, a former world chess champion and the leader of the United Civil Front, and Mikhail Kasyanov, a former Russian PM and the leader of The People's Democratic Union, should form with him "a triarchy of leaders."

"The opposition" said Limonov, needs strong leadership "to raise a single flag to gather warriors beneath it."

The National Bolshevik Party has been branded an extremist organization by the authorities. Group members are known to have thrown mayonnaise and tomatoes at prominent public figures, including Kasyanov, former NATO Secretary Lord George Robertson, and Russian film director Nikita Mikhalkov. Activists have also staged protests by breaking into government offices in Moscow.

For such actions, which the radical group dubs "velvet terror," many of its activists have been arrested and sentenced to prison terms. Limonov himself was jailed in 2001 on charges of illegally purchasing weapons, and served two years behind bars.

Since founding the group in 1994, Limonov, 65, has dropped his anti-capitalism rhetoric while preserving his nationalist message. In recent years, he has sided with the liberal opposition in Russia, which has been desperate to strengthen its ranks.

Limonov, as well as Kasparov and Kasyanov, are already united to an extent in the Other Russia coalition.

Kasyanov was prime minister during Vladimir Putin's first term as president, but was dismissed in 2004. Commonly known in Russia as "Misha two-percent," a reference to bribery allegations concerning his time in office, Kasyanov is heavily associated with the Yeltsin years, which saw widespread hardship in Russia, and has little popular support. Misha is the diminutive version of the Russian name Mikhail.

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