MOSCOW, November 27 (Itar-Tass) —— One week ahead of the parliamentary elections, Russia’s ruling party, United Russia, is to kick off presidential campaign. The party will nominate its leader, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, as candidate for presidency at its congress on Sunday.
It is expected that both the prime minister and President Dmitry Medvedev, who leads the party at parliamentary elections, will address the congress. The two were key newsmakers at the congress’ first stage on September 24, which outlined the future political landscape in the country. Their September speeches came as a basis for the party’s election program.
Whereas the political intrigue around the party’s presidential nominee was laid bare two months ago, the format of Putin’s campaign will be specified at today’s congress. Notwithstanding the fact that Putin’s name has long been associated with the ruling United Russia party, it should be noted that both at the early presidential elections in 2000 and at the elections of 2004, he ran for presidency as an independent. To run for Russian president back in 2000, under the then law, he presented 500,000 signatures collected by his support group. In the 2004 presidential campaign he won two million signatures.
Meanwhile, the scale of today’s congress gives ground to say that the United Russia nominee might claim a nationwide support. Like the first stage of the congress, Sunday’s session will be held at the Luzhniki stadium. It is expected that about 11,000 delegates will take part. Along with party members, the delegates will include representatives from the All-Russia Popular Front set up in May, 2011 at Putin’s initiative.
The chair of United Russia’s central executive committee, Andrei Vorobyev, said ahead of the congress that proposals that came from the All-Russia Popular Front will be reflected in Putin’s election program, and members of the Front’s federal coordination board will take part in a joint session of the party’s supreme bodies that will be held before the congress to square the drafts of the congress’ resolutions. “It is planned that the Popular Program will serve as a basis of our candidate’s election program, and the congress will discuss and adopt it,” Vorobyev said.
The congress will be aired live by the Vesti-24 information TV channel. “We are going to hold the congress in a maximally open format,” said the party leader. It is expected that among delegates to the congress there will be delegations from 25 world nations. More than 1,000 journalists from 546 Russia and foreign media have been accredited to highlight the congress.
The fact that United Russia is the first to nominate its candidate for president is in line with its current policy as the biggest political force in the country, which favors stability and transparency, said Sergei Neverov, the presidium secretary of the party’s general council. Moreover, everyone in the country knows well the party’s leader, Vladimir Putin, he noted. “People trust him, and it would not be an exaggeration to say that he is the most esteemed politician in Russia,” Neverov added.
Vladimir Putin, who turned 59 on October 7, was Russian president for two consecutive terms, or eight years, from 2000 to 2008. At the 2000 presidential elections, he scored 52.94 percent of the vote, and 71.31 percent – in 2004. He left the post in 2008, since the Russian constitution forbids to occupy the post of Russian president for more than two consecutive terms. The incumbent President, Dmitry Medvedev, was elected in 2008. Medvedev ran for presidency as a United Russia nominee, and was supported by Just Russia, Civil Force, and the Agrarian Party of Russia.
At the next presidential elections on December 4, 2012, Russians will elected a president for a longer term of six years.