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United Russia congress to nominate Duma election candidates Sat

September 24, 2011, 5:54 UTC+3

The forum is to hear speeches by Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and the party’s leader, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin

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MOSCOW, September 24 (Itar-Tass) —— The congress of the United Russia party will continue its work on Saturday to put the finishing touches to its election platform and approve of the party's list of candidates for the elections of the sixth State Duma.

The forum is to hear speeches by Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and the party’s leader, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin. On its second day the congress will move to the a Luzhniki sports stadium, which this time will serve as a "political arena."

As the head of the Supreme Council of the party, State Duma Speaker Boris Gryzlov, confirmed on Friday, the total number of participants - "delegates, guests and media representatives” will be about 11,000."

United Russia has never approved its election list in such a wide format.

"This a format that has never existed in Russia yet, but I think it will be important in terms of the unanimity of support for the party United Russia, which has acted in accordance with the voters’ wishes for the past four years and has done much," said Gryzlov, answering a question from Itar-Tass.

As for the composition of the election list, its federal part and the number of regional groups, this, according to Gryzlov, is "the intrigue of the day."

United Russia back last summer suggested that Putin should lead the list himself. It is not excluded that in the federal part of the list, as it was the case in the 2007 election, there will be only one name again.

Meanwhile, in the opinion of the expert community, the congress might be an equivalent of primaries in the anticipation of the presidential election. Inside the party, such expectations do not evoke objections. In any case, the head of the Central Executive Committee of the party, Andrei Vorobyov, talking to reporters on the eve of the congress, recalled that United Russia had nominated Medvedev for president in 2008, regarding him as a "partner and soul mate." The secretary of the United Russia General Council’s Presidium, Sergei Neverov, said that United Russia in taking important decisions always consulted with the head of state, and this time naturally they expect “to hear something about certain areas of joint work."

As expected, the list of United Russia will carry the maximum number of candidates - 600.

This time United Russia will run in the election in cooperation with the All-Russia Popular Front (ARPF), created at the initiative of Vladimir Putin last May. Together with the APRF there was formed an election list and program that was at once dubbed “Popular.” Candidates were selected through preliminary voting by more than 200,000 representatives across the country, and nearly 1.5 million Russians participated in discussing the program.

"To implement this program we shall participate in the elections with the determination to win a majority in the State Duma," said Gryzlov, summing up the first day of the congress, held at the Gostiny Dvor Arcade near the Kremlin.

During the first day the congress discussed in detail the regional aspect of the program. The plenary meeting of the forum was preceded by discussions in the thematic sections. Prime Minister Vladimir Putin visited two of these.

The party’s program was put together by the Institute of Socio-Economic and Political Studies, headed by Nikolai Fyodorov. Speaking at the congress, he said that "taking part in the development of election materials were all regions, from Chukotka and Kamchatka to Kaliningrad, and from Murmansk to Makhachkala." Opinions were gathered from 400 regional experts and from 200 federal level ones.

"At first we were afraid to overload of our proposals, but at some point we understood that they enrich our program and make it practical. It is such little things that make people's life what it is," he said.

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