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MOSCOW, May 26 (Itar-Tass) —— The 13th congress of the United Russia party will gather in Moscow on Saturday with three key questions on the agenda – elections of the party’s leader and its leadership bodies and amendments to the party’s charter.
As is known, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev is to head United Russia. Vladimir Putin, also present at the congress, is to step down as the party’s leader. It was Putin who at a meeting with the party’s activists at the end of April suggested electing Medvedev for the highest post in the party.
Medvedev’s election will start a new chapter in United Russia’s development and the Russian political system in general. In contrast to Putin, who agreed to lead United Russia in 2008 but at the same time remained non-affiliated, Medvedev has already joined the party as a member and now he will become Russia’s first prime minister who is a member of a political party.
Earlier, within the framework of a discussion on the eve of the congress the head of government outlined his vision of the intra-party political reform. Medvedev believes that the party should introduce the practice of electing party functionaries of all levels on a contested basis by direct secret ballot, to considerably enhance the role of party locals, establish a five-year tenure of office for functionaries of all levels, annual reports and the principle of rotation. The General Council, Medvedev believes, should be renewed every year no less than ten percent. Over a period of five years half of its membership will be replaced.
Whereas some of Medvedev’s seven items were discussed in the party earlier, others have become revolutionary. For instance, he believes that the candidates for senior positions in the State Duma and in regional legislatures should be nominated on a contested basis through an open discussion and by secret ballot. A similar procedure should be used to determine the heads of factions in all legislatures. He also believes that primaries should be introduced for nominating candidates for the posts of governors and city mayors and their subsequent discussion and secret voting at regional conferences. Under the current procedure the candidates are proposed by the bureau of the party’s Supreme Council and presented for consideration by the presidium of the General Council.
“The internal party affairs must follow a certain logic, the logic of promoting to party posts the people that our citizens have confidence in,” Medvedev said. “A unified and natural mechanism of generating party functionaries at all levels should be set in motion. Only in that case the party will be a party of winners, achieve success and have a future.”
It is expected that the election of the party’s leader will be the first item on the congress’s agenda. That will be followed by the elections of the Supreme Council and its head, the discussion and voting on amendments to the Charter, and elections of the General Council and Secretary of its presidium.
The congress will bring together 671 delegates. In all, the forum, to be held at the central exhibition hall Manezh, will be attended by more than three thousand people. Invitations had been sent to the All-Russia People’s Front, created at Putin’s initiative, public associations of supporters, and also many guests, including about 30 foreign delegations.
A major international program has been drawn up for the congress. Before the opening of the plenary meeting there will be an inter-party discussion entitled European Project. Integration Associations as a Factor for the Stability of Development. Cooperation Agreements are to be signed between United Russia and the Communist Party of ‘China and the Indian National Congress Party.
Also present at the congress will be Serbia’s President-elect Tomislav Nikolic, with whom Putin will have a separate meeting.