MOSCOW, May 28 (Itar-Tass World Service)
On Saturday, the United Russia Party held its 13th congress in Moscow. Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev was elected as chairman of the ruling party at the congress. The premier laid down the plans to modernize the party. The congress introduced Medvedev’s amendments in the charter and made the first appointments on the alternative basis. Right several editions compared Medvedev’s initiatives with Mikhail Gorbachev’s attempts to modernize the Communist Party of the Soviet Union.
Dmitry Medvedev has taken the policy for the democratisation of United Russia. He instructed to hold alternative elections of party functionaries and rotate the party staff, the Vedomosti daily reported, noting that Medvedev was elected as United Russia chairman without any alternative.
Medvedev stated at the United Russia congress that the party can become the most democratic party in Russia. The amendments in the party charter stipulated the elections of secretaries at all levels on the alternative basis in a secret ballot. These elections were already held at the United Russia congress. Secretary of the United Russia General Council Sergei Neverov (26 out of 135 party partisans voted for his opponents) was re-elected on the alternative basis.
The architect of the reform inside United Russia Medvedev was elected as chairman of the party without any alternative in an open vote. All his initiatives were also approved unanimously.
The term of office will be common for all party functionaries and will make five years, the quotas will be provided for local party partisans (20% in the United Russia General Council) in supreme bodies of the party. The chairman of the United Russia Supreme Council cannot be re-elected for the second term. However, the incumbent Supreme Council chairman Boris Gryzlov was re-elected before the amendments were approved, the newspaper noted.
The speakers of both chambers of parliament Valentina Matviyenko and non-partisan Sergei Naryshkin, governors and several officials, including Finance Minister Anton Siluanov, were included in the United Russia Supreme Council at the congress.
United Russia cannot be changed even through any democratic procedures, no matter how sincere Medvedev’s motives were, the newspaper cited the former Right Cause co-chairman Leonid Rozman as saying. “The recruiting in the party was done under a concrete principle. People were recruited in the party as in the trade union of the ruling bureaucracy, rather than a political party, and people absolutely without any principles were included there. It is impossible to create a party with such human resources,” he said.
In the editorial article entitled “The echo of the January party plenum” the Vedomosti daily compared the United Party congress with the January plenum of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union in 1987 in the historical perspective. The first Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev was also seeking to democratize the party, the Vedomosti daily recalled. The newspaper called the United Russia congress as a historical reconstruction of this event.
The Nezavisimaya Gazeta daily also believes that Dmitry Medvedev’s key initiatives for the modernization of the party, particularly a higher competition inside the party, a higher transparency of the party to the society and the elections on any governing posts in the party on the alternative basis remind of the Perestroika and glasnost of Gorbachev’s era. In the late eighties and the early nineties Secretary General of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union Mikhail Gorbachev stated about the Perestroika and glasnost in the country and began to put them in practice in the ruling party, the newspaper recalled. The Communist Party began to develop the competition inside the party and discussion. The Communist Party of the Soviet Union actually lost the elections in the Soviet Union parliament, which was convened under new rules, retaining the influence only thanks to several election tricks. After the parliamentary elections the Communist Party refused to give up its powers in the peaceful way, and therefore the party was split in regional and ideological groups.
Medvedev should unite the party over the domestic Russian agenda and combat corruption among its members, the Rossiiskaya Gazeta daily reported. The prime minister began his speech with his repeated previous statement, “United Russia should be modernized. For this purpose the party should be more creative, tell people about its work, rather than be a standard ‘machine for voting’.