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    MOSCOW, March 15, 2004. (RIA Novosti) -- The middle class was the core of Putin's supporters at the March 14 elections, says prominent political scientist Gleb Pavlovsky. This is a major feature distinguishing this year's elections from the 2000 campaign, he said at a press conference in RIA Novosti.

    According to Pavlovsky, during the 2000 elections, the middle class split and did not play the key role in supporting Putin, when mostly other sections of society and only a part of the middle class voted for him. But this year Putin managed to mobilise "a genuine support group, which has grown stronger during his presidency," thinks the political scientist, who is said to have close connections in the Kremlin.

    At the same time, he said the number of votes cast for the three opposition candidates and "for none of the above" was rather big. Taken together, they equal about 25% of the vote. He forecasts in this connection the appearance of new opposition parties. In his words, the election results prompt the conclusion that Russia will soon see the rise of a new opposition and its rapid development.

    The scientist views Sergei Glazyev, who was nominated by the left-wing Rodina (Homeland) bloc and ended third with slightly more than 4% of the vote, as a leader in the struggle for the opposition. However, he will not rally the opposition majority because he is noted for "a measure of fanaticism that is dangerous to his political career," says president of the Effective Policy Foundation.

    Irina Khakamada, a leader of the Union of Right Forces (SPS), fought well, says Mr. Pavlovsky. She entered the race as an independent candidate and won 3.9% of the vote. This is a good result if we remember that she did not enjoy her party's support, concluded the scientist.

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