Union of Right Forces

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Union of Right Forces
Leader Boris Nemtsov (1999–2004)
Nikita Belykh (2005–2008)
Leonid Gozman (acting in 2008 until dissolution)
Leonid Gozman (2011-present)
Founded 1999
2011 (as a political public organization)
Dissolved 2008 (originally)
Merger of Democratic Choice of Russia,
New force (Sergey Kiriyenko),
Young Russia (Boris Nemtsov),
Common cause (Irina Khakamada),
Voice of Russia (Konstantin Titov)
Preceded by Right Cause (1998-2000 electoral bloc)
Merged into party Right Cause,
movement Solidarnost
Succeeded by Right Cause,
People's Freedom Party
Headquarters Moscow
Newspaper Right Cause
Ideology Economic liberalism
Liberal conservatism
International affiliation International Democrat Union

The Union of Right Forces political party, or SPS (Russian: Сою́з Пра́вых Сил, СПС/Soyuz Pravykh Sil), is a Russian neoliberal political public organization and formerly party initially founded as an electoral bloc in 1999 and associated with free market reforms, privatization, and the legacy of the "young reformers" of the 1990s: Anatoly Chubais, Boris Nemtsov, and Yegor Gaidar. The party was officially self-dissolved in 2008. Nikita Belykh was the party's last leader in 2005-2008.

Since 2011 the Union of Right Forces has been registered as a political public organization, not a political party. It is a member of the International Democrat Union. Leonid Gozman is currently the public organisation's leader. Political public organisations don't have political party status in the Justice Ministry's list and don't have a right to participate in any elections, according to the Russian law.

Political party[edit]

The Party is considered by Western media organs The Economist and the BBC to be one of the few Russian parties that support Western-style capitalism,[citation needed] socio-politically the party is more conservative.[citation needed] Its headquarters are located in Moscow. It is affiliated with the International Democrat Union.

The Union of Right Forces was established in 1999, following a merger of several smaller liberal parties, including Democratic Choice of Russia and Democratic Russia. In the 1999 parliamentary elections the Union of Right Forces won 8.6% of the vote and 32 seats in the Russian State Duma (lower house of the Federal Assembly of Russia).

From 2000 to 2003 the Union of Right Forces was led by former Deputy Prime Minister Boris Nemtsov. Under Nemtsov's leadership SPS strongly opposed what they saw to be the authoritarian policies of President Vladimir Putin and argued that political and media freedoms in Russia had been curtailed.

In the 2000 presidential election, the SPS supported Vladimir Putin's candidacy, though many of the party leaders supported Grigory Yavlinsky.

In the 2003 parliamentary elections the Union of Right Forces, according to official results, received 4% of the vote and failed to cross the 5% threshold necessary for parliamentary representation. A number of SPS candidates came second in single-mandate electoral districts the party had previously held, such as Irina Khakamada in St. Petersburg, Vladimir V. Kara-Murza in Moscow, or Boris Nadezhdin in the Moscow region.

Despite allegations of fraud, Boris Nemtsov accepted responsibility for the election defeat and resigned as SPS leader in January 2004. On 28 May 2005 Nikita Belykh was elected as the new leader of the party.

Plans to merge with Yabloko were shelved in late 2006.[1]

The party won 0.96% of votes in the 2007 elections, not breaking the 7% barrier, and thus no seats in the Duma.

In 2008, Nikita Belyh left his chair to Leonid Goizman. On 1 October 2008, Federal political council of the party voted to dissolve the party to merge it with Civilian Power and Democratic Party of Russia and form a new liberal-democratic party called Right Cause.[2]

Public organisation[edit]

In 2011, Right Cause was suspended by the International Democrat Union, and the re-founded SPS was made a member.

On 27 February 2014, the SPS formally condemned the 2014 Russian military intervention in Ukraine.[3]

On 12 May 2013, new leader Gozman issued a statement condemning glorification of the Josef Stalin regime's special SMERSH divisions (military counter-intelligence; the abbreviation literally means “death to spies”). They were responsible for deaths and imprisonment of hundreds of thousands of the Red Army soldiers and civilians in the near-front zone during World War II. At that Gozman compared the SMERSH to Adolf Hitler's Schutzstaffel (SS). The next day, the “Komsomolskaya Pravda”, the most circulated Russian daily newspaper, published an article of criticizing Gozman and regrets that "the Nazis didn’t have enough time to 'produce lampshades' of the current Russian liberals’ ancestors" (referencing the allegation that in some death camps, Nazi soldiers made lampshades from human skin). Then, according to the paper, Russia would “face fewer problems”. The article’s author is not on trial and is still employed by the paper, though Russia has a current law prohibiting justification and propaganda of the Nazi methods. On 16 May, the State Duma council authorized its three Committees, the Defense, Security and Information Policy, to launch an investigation and prepare a special State Duma statement. The Duma deputies called for Leonid Gozman’s firing, closing his weekly program at the Russian News Service radio station and banning his public utterances. The following day, the Duma deputies spent a considerable part of their plenary session discussing Gozman and his statement, claiming inadmissibility of any criticism towards the USSR and its army, denying any crimes committed by the SMERSH and NKVD (People’s Commissariat for Internal Affairs). Between 14-17 May 2013, programs disapproving the comparison of Stalin and Hitler as well as the two systems’ punitive agencies and criticizing Leonid Gozman personally were broadcast by all federal TV channels. As for the SPS leader, he has more than once confirmed his viewpoint. The Duma deputies demand to introduce a special law prohibiting any criticism towards the Soviet leadership of the Second World War period. During the entire period since the beginning of the campaign Gozman has been threatened with bodily harm. As of now, the State Duma has been still investigating the case. In the nearest future the issue will be re-considered in the Duma Council and, probably, in the plenary session of the Federal Parliament.[4]

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