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Two-day constituent congress of Russian Popular Front opening in Moscow

June 11, 2013, 4:55 UTC+3

The leadership of Patriots of Russia also said that the party’s representatives could be among the co-founders of the new public movement

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MOSCOW, June 11 (Itar-Tass) - A constituent congress of the Russian Popular Front will open at the Manezh exhibition hall outside the Kremlin on Tuesday. It is expected to pass a decision on transforming the Front into a public movement.

The two-day congress will work on June 11 and 12. It will draw together about 1,500 delegates, of which 500 will be co-founders of the public movement.

The co-founders’ names are kept secret. However, it is already known that representatives of the United Russia party will be among them. According to Sergei Neverov, the secretary of the General Council of the United Russia party, the co-founders from the United Russia party will include, alongside with him, Vladimir Vasilyev, the head of the United Russia faction in the Russian State Duma, Olga Batalina, the deputy secretary of the party’s General Council, and Irina Yarovaya, a member of the presidium of the party’s General Council.

The leadership of Patriots of Russia also said that the party’s representatives could be among the co-founders of the new public movement. It is clear that the co-founders can also include representatives of public organizations such as “Delovaya Rossiya” (Business Russia).

State Duma Deputy Vyacheslav Lysakov, a member of the organizing committee for the preparation of the constituent congress of the Russian Popular Front, has said that ordinary people will be the co-founders.

"We are expanding the spectrum of representatives at the Front to make it a truly nationwide organization,” Lysakov told Itar-Tass earlier.

On the first day, the delegates will discuss the functioning of the future movement.

A form of membership in the Russian Popular Front is still a controversial issue. Until recently, both individuals and organizations have been allowed to formally join its ranks. At the same time, the existing Russian legislation does not allow collective membership of a public organization. Most representatives of the Russian Popular Front believe that only individuals who will bear “individual responsibility” should be its members while agreements should be concluded with organizations, which would wish to unite with the Front. However, Mikhail Shmakov, the head of the Russian Federation of Independent Trade Unions, has said that he intends to raise the question of collective membership.

The congress will also discuss and adopt the core documents of the Russian Popular Front, including a charter, a manifesto and a declaration. The declaration, according to one of the Front’s representatives, will be “a unique code of ethics” and will consist of rules of conduct, which every person joining the Front’s ranks will have to adopt.

The manifesto will be another founding document. Its content has been kept secret. On Monday, some media outlets wrote that the manifesto would allegedly consist of six points. The information was later refuted by the Russian Popular Front’s press service.

Members of the Russian Popular Front hope that Russian President Vladimir Putin will be the leader of the future public movement. However, the degree of his judicial participation in its work remains unknown. The name of a person who will actually head the Front is also kept secret.

A congress will be the Front’s supreme governing body. It will convene once in five years. The congress will form the central headquarters, which in turn will create an executive committee. The second day of the constituent congress will give the final answers to all these questions. Russian President Vladimir Putin is expected to attend the Congress on June 12.

At the same time, the transformation series is unlikely to be over on June 12. Under Russian laws, the Russian Popular Front is to set up regional branches in more than a half of Russian regions in the next three months after the Congress. Branches are expected to appear on the basis of organizing committees, which exist in every region.

Vladimir Putin first announced the intention to create the Russian Popular Front at the United Russia inter-regional conference in Volgograd on May 6, 2011. On May 7, Putin held a meeting with the leaders of public organizations where a Coordination Council of the Russian Popular Front was created. Putin headed the Coordination Council.

In the summer of 2011, United Russia and the Russian Popular Front staged a joint preliminary vote (primaries) to select candidates for elections to the Russian State Duma in December 2011. Members of the Russian Popular Front were included in the United Russia’s federal list of candidates. Eighty-seven of them were elected deputies.

The Russian Popular Front held its first conference in Rostov on Don on March 28-29, 2013. It was devoted to discussion and implementation of the pre-election articles of President Vladimir Putin.

President Putin, the heads of federal ministries and agencies, the president’s authorized delegates and experts took part in the conference after which Putin signed 21 instructions to the government, including on measures to restrict the so-called “golden parachutes” (allowances) for the heads of state corporations, on introduction of a school uniform and on the creation of the single concept of history course in Russian schools.

At present, the Russian Popular Front comprises the Russian Union of Veterans of Afghanistan, Combat Brotherhood, the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs, “Delovaya Rossiya” (Business Russia), “Opora Rossii” (The Pillar of Russia) movement, the Russian Federation of Independent Trade Unions, the Russian Association of Farmers’ Households and Agricultural Cooperatives (AKKOR), the Russian Union of Paratroopers, the work collectives of the Russian Railways joint-stock company, the Mail of Russia, the Severstal plant, the Yaroslavl Motor Works as well as about 1,900 organizations across Russia (189 federal and 1,680 regional organizations). The United Russia party, Patriots of Russia, the Rodina party and the Cossack Party of Russia are the partners of the Russian Popular Front.

The Russian Popular Front will finish the formation of regional organizing committees by May 2013. After that, it will be able to gain the status of an all-Russian organization.

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