MOSCOW: Chess legend-turned-fierce Kremlin critic Garry Kasparov led the opening today of an opposition alternative parliament aimed at "restoration of democracy" in Russia.
About 500 Kremlin opponents ranging from liberals and human rights activists to Communists joined Kasparov in central Moscow for the self-styled "national assembly".
It was the latest attempt by Kasparov to unite Russia's weakened and often bickering opposition against former president, now Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and his successor President Dmitry Medvedev.
A founding charter called for "restoration of democracy and popular government in Russia" and blamed the authorities for "taking the country to the brink of national disaster."
The session was marked by strong emotions, as well as farce.
A young woman from Samara declared after reading out the charter: "I will not spare my efforts or my life for the restoration in Russia of sovereignty and power of the people." Delegates stood to respond: "We swear, we swear."
"We should spit in the face of tsars Putin and Medvedev," the woman added.
Kasparov, considered by many to be the greatest chess player of all time, accused Russia's rulers of creating a "feudal fiefdom" and lambasted mainstream opposition parties such as Yabloko and SPS, which did not attend the assembly.
As Kasparov spoke a toy penis with wings buzzed across the hall and around him. It was not clear who was behind the stunt.
Similar incidents mounted by Kremlin-backed youth groups were frequent during Kasparov's uphill campaign against the Kremlin in the run-up to parliamentary elections in December and Medvedev's controversial election in March.
- Times of India