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    DUMA LIBERALS TO CREATE A NEW POLITICAL PARTY OF LIBERAL ORIENTATION

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    MOSCOW, February 18, 2004. (RIA Novosti correspondent Larissa Sayenko) -- The Duma Liberals, who united on Wednesday to form a group of independent deputies, are ready for founding a new political party of the Liberal orientation, Deputy Mikhail Zadornov said.

    "It goes without saying that we will be engaged in shaping a new liberal coalition, a party. The idea of the coalition between Yabloko and the Union of Right Forces (SPS) has died out," Zadornov said at a press conference on Wednesday. (Yabloko and the SPS failed to take the 5 per cent barrier at the December 7 parliamentary elections.) On the group of independent deputies are five politicians: Vladimir Ryzhkov, Sergei Popov, Viktor Pokhmelkin, Galina Khovanskaya and Mikhail Zadornov himself.

    The politicians have not specified a time-frame for their project so far, but stated that at the first stage it would be a broad coalition of various democratic parties.

    "It will be a broad coalition at the first stage, but then a party is to be founded, which will have the right to nominate its candidate for presidential elections," Zadornov said.

    Viktor Pokhmelkin, leader of the Liberal Russia, said that the group had already started elaborating the organizational structure of the new party.

    "It is highly important for this new liberal party to organizationally take into account the interests and possibilities of each member, rather than to be turned into an arena of infighting for power by squeezing out the rivals," Pokhmelkin said.

    The Liberal deputy group intends to cooperate with other factions and also with the government.

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