MOSCOW, May 23 (Itar-Tass World Service)
Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev on Tuesday joined the United Russia party ranks. He promised to present at the party Congress on May 25 – 26 his views on UR modernisation.
Medvedev submitted an application for membership in United Russia on Monday, Nezavisimaya Gazeta writes. However, Secretary of UR General Council Presidium Sergei Neverov explained on Tuesday that there will be no six-month trial period for the new member, because he has long been a supporter of the party, and at the State Duma elections he headed the party list. Indeed, no objections to Medvedev’s membership were voiced at a meeting of the party’s grassroots organisation.
Medvedev has explained the reasons for his decision to become the party member, Moskovsky Komsomolets writes. It has turned out that not his partner in the ‘tandem’, as one might think, but the opposition prompted him to take this step. “When the opposition forces started to actively criticise the party then I made the decision,” the candidate said. “If I rely on United Russia, share its views, it means that I should be within the party. This is what motivated my decision, and now it’s up to you to decide whether admit me or not.” In addition, United Russia is the only force in the country that can manage it, argued Medvedev.
On Tuesday it became clear that the main expected novelty – the party’s name change, will not happen, Kommersant writes. Medvedev said that United Russia should retain its brand and “make it more attractive.” “As for the endless name changes, mergers, divisions, it seems to me that the party should demonstrate its best qualities is the status which it has now,” said the prime minister.
The publication cites the results of an opinion poll conducted by the VCIOM (Russian Public Opinion Research Centre) in April, according to which, the number of those who clearly said that they have not been and are not supporters of United Russia has now increased to 35 percent (in September 2008 – 23 percent). The number of those polled who are “disappointed” with the party increased from 6 percent to 14 percent. And 11 percent of citizens consider United Russia “a party of crooks and thieves” (partly because of this name the idea of ·· rebranding emerged in the party), and the same number of citizens expressed confidence that United Russia cares about “the people and future of Russia.”
Head of the Levada Centre Lev Gudkov, quoted by Nezavisimaya Gazeta, is certain that Medvedev’s admission to the party will not influence the public opinion in an y way: “Because United Russia was already seen as Putin’s party, or, rather, as a machine to mobilise electoral support for the authorities.” In the view of the citizens, the expert says, United Russia is a bureaucratic organisation that “does not work very well.” And the attitude to it is based on the principle ‘the authorities know best:’ since Medvedev is seen as Putin’s right hand, his entry formally does not change anything. As the president holds the real power – then United Russia as the party of power is anyway for Putin. And Medvedev will continue to be perceived as a technical prime minister.”