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Russian experts say All-Russia People’s Front no rival for ruling party

November 30, 2015, 18:52 UTC+3 Alexandrova Lyudmila
© ITAR-TASS/Valery Sharifulin

MOSCOW, November 30. /TASS/. The All-Russia People’s Front - a non-governmental organization President Vladimir Putin established in 2011 to bolster support for presidential programs plays a special role in Russia’s social and political system. Its main function is to exercise public control of the activity of all branches of power at all levels. In fact, it is the president’s watchful eye, experts say, adding, though, that the APRF is not the ruling party’s rival.

"The way I see it, the People’s Front has firmly established itself as an organization of authority," Putin said at a meeting with APRF activists last Friday. At the same time he believes that the movement should not convert itself into just another watchdog, but eventually evolve into a resource of government by the people.

"There is no task of launching another witch-hunt or shake loose the government machinery. The employees of our administrative bodies are decent people by and large," Putin said, adding that at the same time the administrative body often failed to sense the acuteness of the problem keenly enough, so they should rely on those people who are involved in such movements as the All-Russia People’s Front.

Alongside monitoring progress in the implementation of the presidential decrees of May 2012 the APRF keeps working along several other lines: control of state procurement, struggle with corruption among civil servants and governors, reform of the education and health service, inter-ethnic problems, the protection of rights of regional journalists, etc. APRF activists from many regions of Russia briefed the president on the types of resistance from the authorities they had encountered while exposing corruption and lavish lifestyles.

"The APRF’s prime task is to perform the unique function of genuine popular public control of all branches of power at all levels - federal, regional, and municipal," a member of the presidential council for human rights, head of the general political science department at the Higher School of Economics, Leonid Polyakov, told TASS. "This organization is incorporating the most active members of civil society, who have already earned credibility with fellow citizens. This is precisely why the APRF has such a high rating. As a matter of fact, it is the president’s watchful eye. The state machinery remains clumsy and awkward. Very often fundamental decisions crucial to the well-being of the people get drowned in the bog of bureaucratic procedures. The APRF is conducting specific work to monitor action being taken on each of the presidential instructions on the daily basis. A detailed account is presented at each such meeting. The president has a unique feedback resource at his disposal."

It is nakedly clear that without the APRF the effectiveness of presidential socio-economic decrees of 2012 would’ve been immeasurably lower, Polyakov said. "I believe this is a long-term project and a very successful way of tapping society’s creative energy."

Exact analogues of the APRF cannot be found anywhere else in the world, but movements with similar functions have been quite frequent in countries with still embryonic political parties, the chairman of the Centre for Political Technologies, Boris Makarenko, has told TASS. "The contact between the authorities and society in such countries was carried out through organizations called corporatist. Their main task is not to compete for power, but to directly bolster society’s support for the authorities."

"The APRF also plays some supra-party functions. For instance, it formulates an agenda and controls its enforcement. Also, it formulates legislative proposals. At the same time it does not turn itself into a political party. There is no competition between it and the United Russia party. The APRF is not overburdened by bureaucracy. It unites active people enjoying authority with the public at large."

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