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Presidential candidate not to be named at early stage of the ruling party’s congress

September 23, 2011, 12:04 UTC+3

A pre-election congress of the United Russia (UR) Party opens on Friday

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MOSCOW, September 23 (Itar-Tass) —A pre-election congress of the United Russia (UR) Party opens on Friday. On the first day of the congress the delegates will discuss the programme of the Popular Front, and on the second day they will approve the list of candidates and the UR electoral programme. The main question – who of the tandem will run for presidency – will be left without answer on the first stage of the congress. This will take place on its second stage, in December.

Two sources in the All-Russia Popular Front and United Russia told Vedomosti that UR electoral programme would not be identical to the platform of the Popular Front. In the first document, drafted by a group of experts with Nikolai Fyodorov, ex-governor of Chuvashia, at the head, dozens of pages will deal with the main directions of the development of the country. It will include only a few political initiatives. The ideas, expressed before, on the transition to the election of governors, the return of MPs elected in one-seat constituencies and other democratic novelties will not be included in the programme. According to a participant in the congress, who saw the programme, those problems fall within the sphere of action of President Dmitry Medvedev, rather than of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin. According to his information, however, the programme will include breakthrough economic and social initiatives, which are expected by broad sections of the population, and not by the politically-minded public. Besides, political liberalisation is not what will be needed most urgently, if the second economic crisis breaks out. The ideas will deal with tax privileges, reforms in the housing and communal sector and public control over officials.

The platform of the Popular Front will be presented not as an electoral document, but as a long-term strategy of the country’s development. The UR electoral programme will be shorter and will be more convenient for the public to read and for activities during the electoral campaign. It will be based on the one-hour-long report to be made by Putin, leader of the party, on the second day of the congress.

Some mass media organs reported before that it would be suggested at the congress to put on the list both Putin, the leader of the list, and President Dmitry Medvedev, who is to attend the congress, Vedomosti writes. Some party members are sure, however, that this will not take place. Putin will top the list alone. The programme of the congress does not provide for any other development of the situation. Medvedev will not become another leader of the party. He will only make a 20-minutes-long greeting speech, said a person, who is close to the presidential administration. Putin will be the chief personality of the congress. Many delegates are expected to speak about his outstanding role played in the Russian state, and to demand that he retain his leading post in the power structure.

The congress will not give an answer, however, to the main intrigue of the year – who of the tandem will run for presidency, Vedomosti believes. This is why the congress will be held in two stages, the same as four years ago. The second stage will be held in December. It is expected to name the presidential candidate from the ruling party.

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