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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

What Does SPS Really Stand for?

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It generally takes more than 22 hours to throw together a sensible political party, so perhaps it is unfair to judge the Union of Right Forces, or SPS, too harshly in the wake of last weekend's marathon party congress.

On the other hand, this group has been functioning in the State Duma now for almost a year and a half and it is led by the cream of Russia's so-called liberal elite, so it doesn't seem that unreasonable to expect at least a decent image and a clear platform.

The weekend congress produced neither, and many of us were left with the sense of a party that has sacrificed principle for influence.

"A responsible party that has its deputies in parliament," ran an SPS declaration, "should not indulge in opposition rhetoric. Instead, it should use its intellectual and political resources to influence the government."

Given the liberals' notorious history of neglecting the electorate, such statements must set off alarm bells.

They sound suspiciously like Yegor Gaidar's patented recipe for closed-door, elitist government in which explaining positions to the public is regarded as an unnecessary "indulgence."

We aren't saying that SPS must be or should be in opposition to the Kremlin.

However, if it chooses to become another party of power, joining the club founded by Unity and recently joined by Mayor Yury Luzhkov's Fatherland, it should take the trouble of explaining why in the world Russia needs yet another party of power.

If, on the other hand, SPS does not intend to let the Kremlin dictate its positions, then it is all the more imperative that the new party come up with a few of its own.

And stick to them even if Putin disagrees.

And "indulge" us by explaining them.

That a party could possibly be formed in Russia today without a single reference to the bloody civil war in Chechnya is more than unfathomable: It is immoral.

SPS, of course, is free to choose whatever platform and leaders it wants. But it should spare a thought for its constituency. In the last parliamentary elections, SPS received 9 percent of the vote. Now its rating stands at half that.

Clearly, many who pinned their hopes on SPS then have not been impressed with its performance. We doubt whether they saw anything this weekend that would make them change their minds.

Eighteen months after its creation, SPS is still getting off to a poor start.