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On Thursday, Russian President Vladimir Putin had a meeting with the leadership of the All-Russia People’s Front (ONF) and discussed the ONF strategy for the next year. The president proposed to register ONF as a public organization in the spring of 2013. He does not rule out the creation of a party on the basis of this public organization in the future.
Vladimir Putin stated that ONF should be reorganized in a party, the Kommersant daily reported. “But it seems to me that now this even will limit slightly our framework,” the president stated. “Why? Because if the All-Russia People’s Front is a broad public coalition, as soon as we establish a party, its framework will be limited immediately. So, the All-Russia People’s Front can attract in its work representatives of various public organizations, including various parties: this can be not only United Russia, Patriots of Russia and other parties,” Putin noted.
The president proposed to turn ONF in a national public organization, the Rossiiskaya Gazeta daily reported. “Let’s not shelve it, better in spring, we will hold a founding congress,” he told the guests. Putin also warned the front against bureaucratic procrastination. ONF should not allow to impose someone on the front, and people should not come to work in ONF to solve their personal and corporative problems. The president also approved the idea to create 10-15 platforms and trends in ONF and pledged to meet with the ONF activists not frequently, but on some concrete issues.
Meeting with the ONF leadership, the president filled the souls of his supporters with a new portion of optimism, the Nezavisimaya Gazeta daily reported. The president recommended them to engage more actively in modern public processes, and the meeting looked like he congratulates his party. Putin voiced this prospect, let it be remote, at a meeting with ONF, for the first time speaking about the transformation of the front in a party in the future. Today he considers this step premature. The meeting was held amid the rumours spreading about the termination of the ONF project.
The newspaper recalled that ONF now includes 1,869 public organizations. Some 188 of them work at the federal level, and 1,681 organizations work in Russian regions.
In April 2012 Putin was speaking about the front as a public movement, leaving its supra-party status. It is symptomatic that on Thursday Putin mentioned for the first time an opportunity to transform ONF in a party, let it be even in the future, the newspaper noted. This is logical, as after successful results of United Russia at the autumn elections it would be strange for the president to declare a split in the party. However, before next parliamentary and presidential elections Putin may need it own political structure, a party staff, which will work for his victory in the elections, and only the All-Russia People’s Front can become this staff. Therefore, United Russia has another leader – Dmitry Medvedev, and the former tandem will hardly make another swap of posts, passing United Russia to each other.
Anyway, on Thursday the president showed that the recent rumours about the termination of the activities of the All-Russia People’s Front are false.