Putin meets United Russia candidates, urges honest competition at primaries

Russian President Vladimir Putin, center, and Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, foreground right, at their meeting with participants of the United Russia political party's primary election in Moscow, April 20, 2016 © Dmitry Astakhov
Russian President Vladimir Putin has met with participants of United Russia’s forthcoming primaries and urged the politicians to set an example of fair competition as they exercise this procedure, which is new to the country.

“Primaries are a new thing for our country and still United Russia has already used this procedure, has already started to apply it. However, the scale of this application has previously been smaller and now it is being used nationwide for the very first time,” Putin told the meeting’s participants.

“I very much expect them to become a good way of finding new, promising and interesting people, politicians who would make their first steps at the approaching polls and in the future will work for the benefit of all of society,” Putin added.

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He also asked United Russia members to set an example of fair competition, given the fact that on the Unified Elections Day this year the parliamentary polls would coincide with gubernatorial and municipal elections in almost one-in-two Russian regions.

Putin acknowledged that United Russia remained the leading political force in the country, both by the number of parliamentary seats in the State Duma and regional legislatures and the very nature of its conservative policies and reiterated his request to remember about the promises given to voters to the end of their terms.

The chairman of the United Russia party, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, also took part in the meeting.

United Russia’s primaries are scheduled for May 22 and will take place during the course of one day across the nation. The candidates’ debates are happening on weekends until May 15. The results of the primaries will be the basis for the elections lists that United Russia will use at the nationwide parliamentary polls in September.

At a major convention held in February this year, United Russia leaders decided that the general program of the party will shift from the social-oriented policies successfully used to gain popularity during the recent economic boom to pro-business steps and measures that will help maintain social peace in times of economic crisis. To do this United Russia launched a separate initiative group, or platform, within its ranks that would concentrate on support to various entrepreneurial initiatives.

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Moscow Mayor Sergey Sobyanin, St. Petersburg Governor Georgy Poltavchenko and State Duma Speaker Sergey Naryshkin are expected to top United Russia’s federal party lists at the parliamentary elections.