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United Russia Primed for Primaries

Published: May 22, 2013 (Issue # 1760)

ByáNikolai Petrov

United Russia started primaries last week inámost ofáthe regions that will hold elections onáSept. 8.

Primaries have been initiated andáare now overseen byápresidential deputy chief ofástaffáVyacheslav Volodin. Their purpose is toáimprove theáquality ofáparty candidates andáto prevent conflicts among theáelite when forming party lists. TheáKremlinĺs goal is not toácontrol theáprocess since primaries are largely theádomain ofálocal party authorities. If governors can produce theádesired results, Moscow does not interfere. Whatĺs more, United Russia primaries are consultative inánature andádo not have aádirect effect. Widespread manipulation ofáthe primaries sparked aánumber ofáscandals. Iná2011, then-Prime MinisteráVladimir Putináhad toápersonally step ináto resolve one ofáthose scandals prior toáState Duma elections ináthe Primorye region. Theáresult was that election results fromátwo polling stations were nullified.

TheáAll-Russia Peopleĺs Front, anáumbrella structure intended toáreduce theáimpact ofáUnited Russiaĺs declining popularity, has taken part ináthe United Russia primaries ever since its inception andáhad anáeven greater presence this year than ever before. Theáprimaries are held ináa number of different formats proposed byáthe federal party leadership. Theáfirst format employs special party electors andáis mainly used forágubernatorial primaries ináboth direct elections andáregions such as Dagestan andáIngushetia, where theáparliaments have chosen toáappoint their governors. Theásecond format was employed last year andáallows foráthe participation ofáelectors fromápartner organizations.

Theáthird andámost liberal ofáthe new formats foráprimaries was given aátrial run last fall ináthe elections foráthe legislative assembly ofáSakhalin, garnering 50 percent ofáthe vote foráthe party ofápower foráthe first time inámany years. This type ofáprimary is similar toáordinary elections ináthat it reflects theáwill ofávoters andáis accompanied byáan election campaign andámedia coverage ofáeach stage ofáthe electoral process. Any citizen who can enlist theásupport ofá10 United Russia members has theáright toárun as aácandidate.

These elections are noteworthy foráthe decline ináthe number ofáUnited Russia candidates, aátrend already evident ináthe primaries. Some political analysts are already claiming that theáAll-Russia Peopleĺs Front is gradually becoming theánew ruling party. Ináthe gubernatorial elections ináChukotka, all ofáthe candidates, including theáincumbent, are with theápeopleĺs front. Theásame looks toábe true ináthe mayoral race ináVoronezh, where theáincumbent is also with theáfront. As foráthe two most troublesome regions foráUnited RussiaጠSmolensk, where theálegislative assembly will be elected, andáRyazan, where theáCity Duma will be formedጠUnited Russia is strengthening theálocal party lists with high-profile State Duma deputies andámembers ofáthe Federation Council.

Despite theáauthoritiesĺ slapdash attempt toámanipulate theáresults byáshifting theávote toálate summer, theáSept. 8 elections do not bode well foráUnited Russia. Atábest, theáparty might be able toáminimize its losses. Theáresults ofáthe campaign will be analyzed atáthe United Russia congress ináNovember, but significant changes ináparty politics should become evident much sooner, when theáAll-Russia Peopleĺs Front congress is held ináJune immediately following theáconclusion ofáthe United Russia primaries.á

Nikolai Petrov is aáprofessor ofápolitical science atátheáHigher School ofáEconomics in Moscow.



Wednesday, July 30

SPIBA continues their series of Look@It tours, which focus on the success stories of major brands in the St. Petersburg market. Todayĺs event will focus on the Gorky Golf Club and will also be held there. For more details visit

Thursday, July 31

Develop your leadership abilities during a lecture by famous Russian author and coach Radislav Gandapas. The event starts at 9 a.m. at 5 Lodeinopolskaya Ulitsa. The price for entry is 20,500 rubles ($570).

Relax and enjoy a Parisian atmosphere with some romantic and laidback jazz tunes during the Night of French Music at Lenny Jam Cafe, 63 Ligovsky Prospekt. The entrance fee is 250 rubles ($7).

The Womenĺs Business Club is hosting a Beauty Brunch where participants are invited to discuss the latest news in the beauty industry and listen to lectures by professional stylists in the business.

Friday, Aug. 1

Bikers from all around the world will gather to take part in a parade, extreme shows and rock concerts during the International Biker Festival that revs its engines today and runs through Aug. 3 near Olgino Hotel, 4/2 Primorskogo Shosse.

The Peter and Paul Fortress will be turned into an open-air cinema today and tomorrow as part of the 5th International Short and Animation Film Festival. A huge screen across the fortress walls will air short films non-stop with board games, photo sessions and other activities also on offer for visitors. For more information, visit

Saturday, Aug. 2

Gatchina Palace Park Museum will host its second annual Night of Light, an impressive audio-visual show across the night sky. Tickets are 600 rubles ($16).

If graphic design is more your thing then check out Illustration Day, where you will be able to visit an exhibition, attend lectures by professionals and even show experts some of your own work. The event starts at noon at Zona Deystvia, 73 Ligovsky Prospekt. The entrance fee is 350 rubles ($10).

Sunday, Aug. 3

History lovers shouldnĺt miss the chance to see reenactments of World War I battles in Pushkin at noon. Besides exciting war scenes, visitors can enjoy live music, historical costumes, an equestrian show and a fancy-dress parade starting from the Moscow gates.

Garage Sale, the popular and growing flea market where nothing is priced over 500 rubles ($14.11), starts today at noon in Loft-Project Etagi, 74 Ligovsky Prospekt. Be sure to get in early to score a bargain. Entry costs 50 rubles ($1.40)

Monday, Aug. 4

Continue the working week with a calm and steady mind with a free yoga lesson at 7 p.m. in the Bukvoed store at 23A Vladimirsky Prospekt.

Tuesday, Aug. 5

Visit The Romanov Dynasty doll exhibition today, where more than fifty porcelain dolls depicting Russian rulers, and made by Olina Ventzel, will be on show. The exhibition continues through Aug. 31 in Sheremetyev Palace, 34 Fontanka Naberezhnaya.

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