Opposition Coordination Council doesn't view itself as alternative parliament

The Opposition Coordination Council, whose members were elected a week ago, should consider itself not an alternative parliament but a working body of the opposition movement, says Andrei Piontkovsky, a prominent journalist and a member of the bureau of the opposition group Solidarity.

"We have no right to declare ourselves an alternative parliament or a proto-parliament, because we have been elected not by the [entire] Russian population but only by quite a limited part of it. First of all, we are a headquarters of people having common ideas," Piontkovsky said at the first meeting of the Opposition Coordination Council on Saturday.

Piontkovsky proposed setting up a standing forum called Free Russia, which would comprise all those who voted in the elections of the Opposition Coordination Council.

"The forum should become the main institution of the protest movement, and the Opposition Coordination Council its working body. Moreover, this forum can and should be expanded by including in it people who would like to join," he said.

Taking part in the meeting were 29 out of the 45 Opposition Coordination Council members, including Alexei Navalny, Sergei Udaltsov, Ilya Yashin and others.

Navalny supported the proposal on "expanding the number of voters."

"I believe we should continue registering people and involving them in the decision-making process," he said.

Udaltsov, thleader of the Left Front group, proposed collecting signatures via the Internet in support for political prisoners. He also insisted on specifying in the meeting's resolution what items the next protest action against "political reprisals" should include.

Udaltsov also proposed holding regular actions in support for liberating political prisoners similar to those activists stage every Thursday near the Investigative Committee headquarters, in which they try to encircle the building.

"Similar actions should be held in regions, where local investigative departments should be encircled by activists. It is impressive and symbolic, and it does not cause clashes with police," he said.

The Opposition Coordination Council plans to adopt rules of procedure at the next meeting. Proposals on the matter and draft rules of procedure are welcome through the Internet, where they could be discussed. The council is so far functioning by provisional rules of procedure.

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