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    Right-wing party leaders in Russia deny unification reports -1

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    MOSCOW, May 19 (RIA Novosti)-The leaders of two liberal parties in Russia denied Friday media reports that they were set to fight the 2007 parliamentary election together.

    Nikita Belykh, the leader of the Union of Right Forces (SPS), and Vladimir Ryzhkov, an independent member of the lower chamber of parliament and head of the Republican Party, said they had stated that they maintained close positions with each other, as well as with the Party for the Development of Entrepreneurship, at a conference in the Urals.

    But they denied that this meant they would unite to fight the election.

    "Reports on unification do not correspond to reality," Ryzhkov said. "Journalists, as usual ... have mixed everything up."

    Ryzhkov said that the country needed a new opposition democratic party, but it was too early to talk of the emergence of one in Russia.

    Belykh also dismissed reports of a planned merger with former Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov, who announced the creation of his own party in early 2006 and said he planned to unite democratic forces ahead of parliamentary and presidential elections in 2007 and 2008.

    "We are ready for unification processes, but the problem is that Kasyanov cannot decide what he wants," Belykh said.

    The SPS, which won two out of 450 seats in the State Duma in the 2003 elections compared with the 32 it took in 1999, has also moved this year to unite opposition forces under a united democratic party.

    The democrats, however, have not been able so far to identify a common platform, or put up a recognized leader able to compete as an equal with the party of power, United Russia.

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