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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Rodina Expects Easier Ride After Shake-Up

Itar-TassBabakov attending Saturday's congress, which chose him to lead Rodina.
Rodina should again be allowed to participate in all elections and receive favorable coverage on state television after outspoken leader Dmitry Rogozin resigned at a weekend congress and was replaced by Alexander Babakov, a wealthy businessman who is expected to adopt a more loyal stance toward the Kremlin, a senior party member said.

Yury Skokov, who heads Rodina's political council and has been holding talks with the presidential administration over Rodina's future, said the shake-up promised an end to pressure from the state, said Mikhail Delyagin, who chairs Rodina's ideological council.

"We have fulfilled our promise. Now, we expect that the presidential administration will do the same," said Delyagin, speaking outside Saturday's congress, which was closed to reporters.

"But I really doubt that the Kremlin carries out its promises," he added, without elaborating.

Rodina was barred from Moscow City Duma elections in December over a campaign commercial that featured Rogozin and likened dark-skinned migrants to garbage. The party was then barred from seven races for regional legislatures on March 12.

It also has received negative coverage on state television, including in a Channel One news report this month about a skinhead who placed portraits of Hitler and Rogozin on his wall because he thought their ideologies were similar.

Rogozin -- who had led the party since its founding just two months before State Duma elections in 2003 -- said he had been forced to resign after months of heavy pressure from the presidential administration.

"An ultimatum was effectively issued: Rodina could continue to exist as a party only with a different leader," Rogozin said Friday, Interfax reported.

Rogozin would not speak to reporters after the congress, which was held under tight security at the Izmailovo Hotel. A colleague said he left soon after he stepped down.

Delegates then appointed Babakov to take over.

Babakov, a Duma deputy who is the president of the CSKA Moscow football club and owns many Ukrainian businesses, refused to comment on Rogozin's resignation. "I respect his decision because he is a wise and serious politician," Babakov told reporters.

He said Rogozin would be a co-chairman of the party and that Rodina's policy was unlikely to change.

"We need to work and to get ready for the 2007 Duma elections," he said.

Analysts speculate that Babakov is the main financier of Rodina, but he refused to comment about the matter.

Babakov said he could not talk long because he had to leave for Ukraine to monitor that country's parliamentary elections, which were held Sunday.

Delyagin said delegates did not discuss party ideology at the congress, but he predicted that Rodina would now be "a constructive opposition" force.

He said few delegates opposed Rogozin's resignation.

Rogozin attended the congress as a guest after police interrupted a meeting of Rodina members who had gathered in Rostov on Thursday to appoint him as an official delegate. The police said they had received a tip about a bomb in the building -- a claim that Rogozin dismissed by telephone on Thursday as another Kremlin measure aimed at forcing him to resign.

Calls to the presidential administration went unanswered Sunday.