Russian political parties hope for compliance with `Fair 2003 Election` Agreement

Representatives of the Russian political parties, who signed the `2003 Election Agreement` on Friday, expressed hope for universal compliance with the document. The Agreement, which commits all political parties involved in the December 2003 parliamentary election to hold a sleaze-free pre-election campaign, tops the agenda of the inter-party forum "Political Parties for Fair Election" that opened in Moscow on Saturday.

According to Valery Bogomolov, one of the leaders of the United Russia party, the latter regards the Agreement as "a moral support" for the entire Russian electoral system and as "an attempt to win back the voters' trust". As a representative of a pro-President party, he thinks, however, that the opposition Union of Right Forces has already violated the Agreement through distribution of materials containing negative assessment of the United Russia's activities.

Anatoly Lukyanov representing the KPRF (the Communist Party of the Russian Federation) said that his party "is rather sceptical about a possibility to hold fair elections in Russia today but nevertheless signed the agreement believing that this step is important for the country's population as well as for all political parties". Lukyanov said that the Communists would try their best to fulfil all provisions of this "non-aggression pact", the term the document has already been billed by Russian journalists.

Vladimir Zhirinovsky, leader of the LDPR party, suggested that the Moscow Manezh (an exhibition complex in the heart of Moscow) "should become a constant venue for contacts between different political parties for years to come". In his opinion, "political parties should sign all kinds of cooperation agreements, as those who refuse to do so give rise to serious suspicions on their account".

Rfgat Altynbayev from the Russian Party of Life believes that the signing of the Agreement was "an event of major significance for the whole country". He added, however, that "there should be no delusion on its account".

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