05:41 GMT +321 September 2018
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    Nationalist Rodina party nominates new chairman

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    MOSCOW, March 24 (RIA Novosti) - The presidium of controversial nationalist bloc Rodina (Motherland) Friday unanimously recommended that its chairman be elected leader of the eponymous party following the forced resignation of his predecessor.

    The presidium said the name of Alexander Babakov, who is Rodina's top sponsor after making a fortune in the energy sector, should be put to the vote at a party conference on Saturday after Dmitry Rogozin stepped down Friday morning.

    "Presidium members unanimously supported Babakov's candidacy as the only person who, according to Dmitry Rogozin, can lead the party out of its present impasse," a party source said, adding that the congress would most likely accept Rogozin's resignation and elect Babakov as the new party chairman.

    The party press service, however, said it was quite possible that congress delegates might propose new candidacies.

    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 what has been termed nationalist and xenophobic ideology.

    Rogozin said he would remain a party member, as he fully shared its views, and added that he would officially announce his resignation at the party's convention.

    Rodina burst onto the political scene in the 2003 parliamentary elections, when it took 11% of the vote with a campaign targeting Russia's super-rich. However, it has since suffered from infighting and has courted controversy with advertisements that many considered to contain racist overtones. The bloc was banned from participating in December 4 elections to the Moscow legislature after the ultra-nationalist Liberal Democratic Party of Russia (LDPR), itself no stranger to criticism, filed a suit with the Moscow city court alleging a Rodina television campaign post incited racial tension.

    The advertisement featured three dark-skinned men purportedly 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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