On Saturday, United Russia faction at the State Duma elected a new leader – a former deputy interior minister, MP Vladimir Vasilyev. He replaced Andrei Vorobyov, who had been appointed acting Governor of the Moscow region. According to certain sources, President Vladimir Putin had made that choice. The media say the news may be a proof of the president’s renewed interest to the party.
The Kommersant writes that Vasilyev’s candidature was a personal choice of Vladimir Putin, which may demonstrate that the president’s interest towards that party is growing, like it used to be until United Russia’s leadership was transferred to Dmitry Medvedev. One of the reasons is that the deputy is a symbol of the anticorruption topic, which Putin had ordered the deputy to be responsible for. The main reason is the direct contact between Vasilyev and the president. Such relations between the president and the Duma’s faction make a new line in activities of the party, the newspaper reports. Prior to approval of the disputable bill on banning deputies’ ownership of foreign real estate and accounts, which the president had welcomed, this is of an importance. Generally speaking, this connection demonstrates the president’s growing attention towards the party. Over is the period of his demonstrative keeping distance, which began following the elections to the State Duma. Vladimir Putin has refused from mediators and wants to make decisions on United Russia himself. The newspaper stressed that the party’s leader Dmitry Medvedev, as formal as he may be, had not been seen involved in the election of the faction’s leader.
The Kommersant writes that alternative candidates turned out to be formal. First Deputy President of the Centre for Political Technologies Alexei Makarkin also stressed lack of major competition. “Quite possibly, that was Putin’s personal decision,” the newspaper quoted the expert as saying. “In 1999, Vasilyev at the Security Council was his deputy, and later on deputy of Sergei Ivanov and then deputy of Gryzlov at the Interior Ministry.”
A source close to the presidential administration told the Vedomosti that Vasilyev not only represents the presidential team, but is also a demonstration of the president’s current policy – to renew and have self-clearance of the power, to fight corruption.
“Under his leadership, the faction will be a self-sufficient centre for making decisions, and Vasilyev’s task is to improve the faction’s two components: representatives of United Russia and those of the United People’s Front,” the source said.
Meanwhile, the Nezavisimaya Gazeta’s source at the State Duma assures the candidature was suggested by Vladimir Putin, but the choice had been made with the assistance of head of the presidential administration Sergei Ivanov. The newspaper stresses Ivanov’s growing influence has a background of weakening positions of the government. “How much probable is replacement of Dmitry Medvedev with Sergei Ivanov?” the newspaper asks.
The Novye Izvestia highlights the Saturday news about the decision of the State Duma’s speaker Sergei Naryshkin to join the United Russia party. One of the reasons to join the party, Naryshkin said, was the fact that it would allow “more effective influence on the legislative activities of the parliament.” Political analyst Dmitry Oreshkin called it a weak reason, as it is always better to be independent and to be free to act, rather than to join a party. “Most likely, Naryshkin was explained that the State Duma’s speaker should be directly connected with the parliamentary majority. Most likely, he had to do so,” the expert said.