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    Rogozin resigns as leader of nationalist Rodina party - paper

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    Dmitry Rogozin has decided to resign as head of center-left nationalist bloc Rodina (Motherland), a leading business daily said Friday.

    MOSCOW, March 24 (RIA Novosti) - Dmitry Rogozin has decided to resign as head of center-left nationalist bloc Rodina (Motherland), a leading business daily said Friday.

    "Out of tactical considerations and after a series of consultations with my political partners and colleagues, I have decided to resign from all top posts in the Rodina party, including the chairman's position," Kommersant quoted Rogozin as saying.

    Rodina leaders said last week they would seek Rogozin's dismissal at a party session on Saturday. They also said they would push for the party to abandon nationalist and xenophobic ideology.

    Rogozin said he would remain a party member, as he fully shared its views.

    "I am sure that my decision will have a synergic effect for me and my political partners after a while," he said cryptically, adding it was early to go into more detail.

    Rogozin said his decision would not harm the party, as Rodina "is a party of ideology, not a personality."

    He added he would officially announce his decision at the party's convention Saturday.

    "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. Babakov is chairman of the party's presidium and Rodina's top sponsor.

    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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