Putin accepts party invitation

Vladimir Putin is the new leader of United Russia after the ruling party invited him to take the reins when he steps down as president next month. His candidature was approved unanimously at the party congress in Moscow. Addressing delegates, Putin also o

Once he steps down on May 7, Putin will be head of both the Cabinet and United Russia.

Speaking at the congress, Putin highlighted the party’s positive role in recent years.

“More than seven years have passed and today we can say quite definitely that the party has managed to ensure the reunification of diverse elements in the interests of its citizens, in the interests of our country and our country,” Putin said.

To watch Putin addressing the United Russia congress, follow the link.

United Russia’s current chairman also invited President-elect Dmitry Medvedev to join the party. Medvedev, though, refused the offer, saying he considers it right to remain unaffiliated to any party.

“The leadership of the United Russia has invited me to join the party. I highly value this proposal and I thank all those who made it. United Russia is undoubtedly the party ideologically very close to me. But so far I consider it premature to participate directly in its activities. I think after I have been elected the head of State, it would be correct not to be a member of any party,” Medvedev said.

To watch Medvedev addressing the United Russia congress, follow the link.

Expert opinion

Analysts are already saying Russia is going to see a completely new balance of power.

“The post of Chairman of the Party is of course a very powerful institution, because the Chairman could be removed by two-thirds of the vote at a congress. The Chairman can remove any person from the Party’s Central Council. Basically, not even the General Secretary of the Communist Party of the USSR had such powers,” said Dmitry Babich, political analyst from the Russia Profile magazine.

Russian TV anchor and political analyst Dmitry Brilev is positive about the changes.

“For the first time ever we will have a prime minister who will be the head of a party. The mechanism of political power is becoming something new. As President Putin said this will allow better co-operation between the executive and legislative powers,” he said.

Some commentators also say these changes in the political structure would see Russia shifting from a presidential to a parliamentary republic.

“I think there is a big experiment going on building a new party system in Russia, maybe on the redistribution of power between President, Prime Minister and Parliament. I suppose very subjective factors will play a role in the future – the development of relations between Putin and Medvedev, the economic, political and social situation in the country. But anyway, Russia will never be a one-party country again,” said Irina Kobrinskaya, political analyst from the Institute of World Economy.

Public Chamber member Anatoly Kucherena says under the new system Russia’s government and parliament will be closely linked.

“Now the party will be directly responsible for the decisions that are also taken by the PM, thus enabling it to take serious decisions that will influence the lives of Russian citizens,” Kucherena said.

Kemerovo Region Governor, Aman Tuleyev, said: “It’s a huge responsibility, we have to spare our president”.