A Just Russia Looks to Spring Cleaning

A Just Russia is to hold its third annual congress Friday at the Kremlin, where the party is expected to expel thousands of members who were not aware that they were members and to tweak the colors scheme of its logo.

These are two highlights of what appears to be an otherwise lackluster agenda for A Just Russia, a pro-Kremlin party created two years ago by Federation Council Speaker Sergei Mironov as a center-left alternative to United Russia.

As intrigue emerged in the run-up to the conference, with Nezavisimaya Gazeta on Thursday citing unidentified party officials as saying A Just Russia could merge with the Communists.

The intrigue, however, did not last long.

Both Mironov and Communist Party leader Gennady Zyuganov on Thursday denied the possibility of a merger, with Mironov accusing Zyuganov of "short-sightedness" and Zyuganov saying Mironov is not a true opposition figure.

The party's charter, however, will be amended at the congress to make such mergers easier, a senior party official said Thursday on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to the media.

The congress will also disband the party's politburo and transfer its functions to the central council. The politburo's chairman, Nikolai Levichev who also heads A Just Russia's faction in the State Duma, will be elected as the council's first secretary, the official said.

"All other party leaders will be re-elected to their posts, and the balance of power between them will not change," he said.

Of the party's 438,000 registered members, between 15,000 and 20,000 will be expelled from its ranks, Mironov said earlier this week.

"They were put on the party's list but were not even aware of it," Mironov said in comments posted on the party's web site. "We don't need these people."

Mironov also said earlier this week that the party would not change its official title, which in full reads: "A Just Russia: Rodina/Pensioners/Life."

A change in color scheme, however, is imminent. The color red on the party's logo will be replaced by gold in order to avoid confusion with the Communist flag, Mironov said.

Neither President Vladimir Putin nor President-elect Dmitry Medvedev, whose presidential bid was backed by A Just Russia, will show up at the congress, two party officials said Thursday.

Putin and Medvedev both attended United Russia's ninth annual congress earlier this month. Putin was elected to the newly created position of party chairman at the conference.