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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

A Just Russia Reprogramming Socialism

MTMironov, with Goryacheva and Shergunov, addressing reporters on Sunday.
A Just Russia opted for computer terminology in kicking off its first federal election campaign Sunday, calling for the creation of "socialism 3.0."

The congress announced the party's candidate lists for State Duma elections Dec. 2, which included a number of names familiar for their association with the Communists, A Just Russia's most likely competitor in the vote.

Party leader and Federation Council Speaker Sergei Mironov told 200 delegates at Moscow's Russian Academy of Government Service that they should work to create a "new idea of socialism."

"This will be socialism version 3.0," Mironov said.

While the "3.0" reference conjured the idea of Windows 3.0, the first widely used version of Microsoft's operating system, released back in 1990, Mironov gave it a contemporary pitch.

"We already had the first type of socialism -- the Soviet one -- the second was the Western-European kind, but they were both helpless," Mironov said. "We are for a new socialism."

He also told the delegates that he had a telephone conversation with President Vladimir Putin on Saturday, in which Putin wished the party luck.

Speaking with journalists amid tight security in a hall decorated with Russian flags and Soviet-style displays depicting different moments in the party's brief history, Mironov said A Just Russia was not opposed to the market economy.

"We just want the government to fulfill its role in the social sphere," Mironov said.

A Just Russia is a coalition of pro-Kremlin parties formed in February and widely portrayed as a project to take votes away from the Communists. Part of its mandate also appears to be the provision of a socialist alternative to United Russia, another pro-Kremlin party that holds a commanding majority in the current Duma.

Polling data from the Levada Center released last week showed A Just Russia, with the support of 7 percent of decided voters, trailing the Communists, who were the choice of 18 percent of respondents. The poll had a margin of error of 3 percent.

Mironov was tapped to head the federal list, while Svetlana Goryacheva, who was elected to the Duma in 2003 on the Communist ticket, and 27-year-old Sergei Shergunov, the leader of the party's youth movement, grabbed the other two spots.

"I'm for the creation of a middle class and for increasing Russia's population," Goryacheva said of her switch to A Just Russia. "The Communists talk a lot about it, but they haven't done anything."

Communist Duma Deputy Yelena Drapeko and the former head of the party's Moscow branch, Alexander Kuvayev, have also crossed over to A Just Russia's ranks.

Mironov said Shergunov, a relative unknown, was given the spot because "it was necessary to push young people to the forefront."

Acting Culture and Press Minister Alexander Sokolov and Galina Khovanskaya, an independent who was elected as a Yabloko candidate in 2003, will top the party's Moscow city list.

There has been much media speculation that Sokolov will lose his post in a Cabinet shuffle likely to be announced this week.

Alexander Lebedev, an ex-KGB agent and president of the National Reserve Bank, had been slated for the No. 1 spot on the Moscow city list but said he had decided "just to campaign for the party."

Currently a Duma deputy with United Russia, Lebedev dismissed rumors that Putin had pushed for him to be left off the list.

"It was my decision," Lebedev said at the congress. "The party should not have businessmen in its lists."

"I back what the Kremlin backs," he added. "If the Kremlin decides to help a good project, I say, 'Well done.'"

Actress Rimma Markova, 82, who played the witch in the films "Night Watch" and "Day Watch," will head up the party list in the Tomsk region. Markova told journalists that she joined the party because she wanted young people to live a better life than she lived under the Soviet regime.

She also lashed out at media descriptions of the party as a Kremlin project.

"I don't like journalists. They lie all the time," Markova said. "This is not a pro-Kremlin project. Our party cares about people."