Fair Russia co-chairman reportedly moves to Popular Front

Aleksandr Babakov (RIA Novosti / Vladimir Fedorenko)
One of the creators of the Fair Russia party, Aleksandr Babakov, has potentially decided to leave his party and join the ranks of United Russia’s Popular Front movement.And yet, the inability to confirm the news has generated some intrigue.

The report about Babakov’s decision to quit Fair Russia appeared on Thursday morning on a regional information web-site that quoted an open letter signed by the politician. The letter accused Fair Russia (and especially its leader Sergey Mironov) of holding the wrong line in their constant “destructive” criticism of the parliamentary majority United Russia.

It also said that Fair Russia had lost its meaning as the left-wing opposition to the Communist Party of the Russian Federation. Babakov also wrote that he liked the very idea of the Popular Front, and that many of the organizations that listed him as a member were ready to join United Russia’s elections project (the Popular Front is a recently formed organization that allows popular public figures to run for parliament on United Russia’s tickets without being United Russia members).
However, it soon appeared that no other news outlet had received the open letter, as reporters started to question its existence. The situation became even more ambiguous as it was learned that Babakov is on vacation and not answering any calls.

Even without verification of the news, Russian politicians started to comment on Babakov’s decision as if it was a done deal. Fair Russia’s founder and the head of the party’s parliamentary faction, Sergey Mironov, wrote in his micro blog that it was likely that Babakov was leaving and added the phrase “at last!” Later in the day, Mironov told the Interfax news agency that he was very happy that Babakov was leaving as “there was little use for him, in spite of fact that he was much too ambitious”.Fair Russia’s chairman, Nikolai Levichev, said that if Babakov’s decision on joining the Popular Front was true, he would be expelled from Fair Russia (the party leaders had repeatedly ruled out any form of cooperation with the Popular Front and United Russia).

The Communist Party of the Russian Federation compared Babakov to a rat escaping from a sinking ship. “Fair Russia, in essence, was a political ship, even though it was small and now it is sinking, as its captain has been demoted to a private. And it is clear who flees from the ship first when it is sinking,” deputy chairman of the Central Committee of the Communist Party Vladimir Kashin has said. Kashin also added that Babakov was not the only Fair Russia leader who had chosen the Popular Front, as he predicted that Fair Russia would soon perish as a political project.

United Russia and the Popular Front made no official comments, but Vladimir Putin’s press secretary Dmitry Peskov said that though he possessed no confirmation of Babakov’s decision to apply for the Popular Front, the movement was open to everyone, as some top members from other parliamentary parties, like the Liberal Democrats, had already joined it.

In 2006 Aleksandr Babakov became the chairman of the Rodina (Motherland) party, which at that time was the second largest political party in the Russian Federation after United Russia. In the same year, Babakov announced plans to merge the party with the Russian Party of Life, headed by Sergey Mironov, to create the Fair Russia party – the major left-wing movement that would oppose the centrist United Russia while still supporting Vladimir Putin’s political course. On Fair Russia’s ticket, Babakov got a parliamentary seat during the 2007 State Duma elections, where he went on to become the deputy speaker of the lower house.