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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

A Just Russia Converges on St. Petersburg

The pro-Kremlin party A Just Russia convened on Monday in St. Petersburg for its first convention, where it was set to ratify a platform.

A Just Russia was created last year when three parties — Rodina, the Party of Life and the Party of Pensioners — merged. It has been publicly portrayed as a center-left counterweight to another pro-Kremlin party, United Russia, which is called center-right.

President Vladimir Putin sent greetings to the delegates in St. Petersburg.

In his remarks, Putin thanked them for contributing to Russia's new, multiparty system — for "managing to unite a wide spectrum of constructive public forces on the basis of patriotism and social justice values," Interfax reported. The president said he hoped A Just Russia "would win strong respect and support from the public."

Opposition leaders and democratic activists have scoffed at the new multiparty system, saying there are no substantive differences between United Russia and A Just Russia, both of which have said they will do whatever possible to enact Putin's agenda.

A Just Russia's convention was chaired by Putin ally Sergei Mironov, who heads the new party and is the Federation Council speaker.