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    MOSCOW, JANUARY 20, 2004, RIA NOVOSTI - "Committee 2008. Free Choice." is the name of a new association set up by right-leaning Russian activists to protect democratic values.

    Committee 2008 is not a party; it has no ambition of evolving into an election bloc or advancing any of its members as election candidates in the 2004 or the 2008 polls, Gary Kasparov, the chairman of the newly founded organization and a world-famous chess player, said at a press conference Tuesday.

    Besides Kasparov, the association's thirteen-strong founding board includes journalists Yevgeny Kiselev and Sergei Parkhomenko, economist Irina Yasina, and Boris Nemtsov, co-chairman of the Union of Right Forces.

    The ambition of Committee 2008 is to unite those concerned over the fate of Russian democracy, Kasparov said. Speaking of possible support for the candidacy of Irina Hakamada in the forthcoming presidential vote, he said the group had no unanimous stance on the issue thus far. They will wait for the Central Electoral Commission to complete the registration of presidential hopefuls (the fixed deadline is January 28) and will decide on a course vis-a-vis Hakamada at their maiden session the following day, he explained.

    In reply to a question as to whether Committee 2008 was planning to interact with left-wingers, Kasparov pointed out that the association he chaired sought cooperation on an individual basis rather than with blocs and coalitions. According to him, any interested person may sign up to the Committee 2008 Declaration, already in the public domain, and take part in the new organization's activities.

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