Kremlin critics split ahead of presidential poll

Two leading figures of the non-governmental organisation, All-Russian Civil Congress, have quit because of a row with controversial Kremlin critic Garry Kasparov. The former world chess champion was also a co-chairman of the group.

A human rights activist Lyudmila Alekseeva and a famous political analyst Georgy Satarov are quitting the foundation which has about one thousand leading civil society activists. 

Alekseeva claims that Kasparov's increasing political ambitions have been impairing the work of the NGO.

“As far as I know, most members of the Congress share our viewpoint. The Congress should not support any political party or leader. Our main role is to defend the main principles of democracy and constitutional rights of Russian citizens,” Lyudmila Alekseeva said.

Organisation leaders have asked Kasparov to leave the Congress, but he refused, prompting them to depart instead.

The departure of Alekseeva and Satarov reportedly saddened their former ally.

“Kasparov was very surprised – he couldn't think of any problems with other co-chairmen of the Civil Congress that could have prompted this move. He's very upset by the news,” commented Marina Litvinovich, advisor to Garry Kasparov.