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Three Russian Political Parties to Merge

Three of Russia's smaller political parties are set to merge.

The leader of the Party of Life, Sergei Mironov, said Tuesday that the move will unite his party with the Rodina Party and the Party of Pensioners. Mironov chairs Russia's upper chamber of parliament. The Itar-Tass news agency says he suggested "Rodina, Pensioners and Life - Union of Trust" as the working title for the new group.

Some politicians called the merger an attempt to isolate opponents of Russian President Vladimir Putin, whose supporters hold a majority in the lower house of parliament, the State Duma.

But Mironov, who is said to have close ties to Mr. Putin, dismissed claims that the maneuver is being orchestrated by the Kremlin.

Russia will hold parliamentary elections next year and presidential elections in 2008.

Some information for this report was provided by Reuters.