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Medvedev Appointed United Russia Chair

Published: May 30, 2012 (Issue # 1710)


MOSCOW Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev called for United Russia to be rebuilt from scratch at a convention that elected him party leader over the weekend.

But many old party hands also landed leadership posts at the convention, casting doubt on whether significant changes were in the offing.

Former State Duma Speaker Boris Gryzlov was appointed head of the partys supreme council, while Sergei Neverov, a conservative known for his tough stance against opposition protests, was named head of the partys general council.

Medvedev promised to reform the party by introducing primaries for mayors and governors and raising the share of lower-ranked members in the partys ruling bodies by up to 20 percent.

The desire for change, expressed by many regional party members, has revealed problems in the mammoth party, known for lacking an ideological agenda and often used as a toothless force for senior leadership to push laws through the parliament.

In private conversations, all of you have said its impossible to work like this and we dont mean anything for the party, Deputy State Duma Speaker Oleg Morozov said at a round table on the eve of the convention, shortly before being named head of the presidential administrations department for domestic politics.

United Russia, which has held a parliamentary majority for a decade, has been accused of manipulating elections and harboring corrupt officials among its ranks. Critics have dubbed United Russia the party of crooks and thieves.

Everything connected with United Russia I have spurned from my life forever, former senior United Russia official Lyubov Sliska said by telephone when commenting on the partys future.

But Sholban Kara-ool, a United Russia member who heads the Tyva republic, said he was excited that the party had a say in the formation of Medvedevs Cabinet. The party is really becoming the force that is forming the government, he said.

But Medvedevs promises for party reform were met with caution by Duma Deputy Vladimir Dolgikh.

We need to develop mechanisms and people for it, said Dolgikh, a United Russia member who held senior positions in the Soviet Communist Party.

The lack of new members that can assume leadership positions is visible in the composition of the partys general council.

Among the few new people elected to the council was Valery Trapeznikov, a former Uralvagonzavod worker-turned-Duma deputy. He will oversee relations with trade unions.

Trapeznikov said party members should unite to physically beat the partys enemies, referring to opposition leaders Alexei Navalny and Ilya Yashin, Kommersant reported Saturday.

Ural Mountain-based Uralvagonzavod became a support base for Putin during his re-election bid in March.

Former United Russia Deputy Sergei Markov said the party could have demonstrated a desire for change during the convention by proposing other candidates for the chairmanship alongside Medvedev.

He noted Medvedev would not have full control over the party. The party remains the party of Putin, he said.





 


ALL ABOUT TOWN

Friday, Aug. 29


Park Pobedy will feature the sights and sounds of the world outside of Russia during the Open Art International Festival today. Taste foreign cuisine, learn how to make tea like the Chinese or relax in a hammock during the free event. Although entrance is free, you must register beforehand if you wish to attend.



Saturday, Aug. 30


Break out the tweed and channel your inner Englishman during the English Hunt Picnic this afternoon organized by the Bagmut stables from Krasny Bor in the Leningrad Oblast. Equestrian stunts, English archery and classic hunting fashion will all be available to visitors hoping to live like the characters in Downton Abbey if only for a day. Tickets for the event cost 7,900 rubles ($219.40).


Bookworms will have their chance to swap out well-read classics for something new for their bookshelves at Knigovorot, a free book exchange that will be held in the Yusupov Garden on Sadovaya Ulitsa today. Come for the chance to get a new book or take the opportunity to discuss the literary merits of your favorite authors with fellow fans.



Sunday, Aug. 31


The Neva Delta International Blues Festival wraps up this afternoon on Vasilevsky Island with a concert featuring not only some of Russias best blues bands but international stars as well. Admission is free for all three days of the festival, which begins on Aug. 29, and the shows starting at 5 p.m. each day.



Monday, Sept. 1


Today marks the beginning of Lermontov-Fest, a fall festival celebrating the life of one of Russias most remarkable poets who, in a fate eerily similar to Pushkins, was killed in a duel at the age of 26. Organized by the Lermontov Library System, the next several months will see art exhibitions, concerts and public lectures focusing on the Lermontovs short yet prolific career. Check the Lermontov Library Systems website for more details.



Tuesday, Sept. 2


Join expats and practice your Russian during the Russian Clubs weekly meetings every Tuesday night at 7:30 p.m. The club is free to participate in although you need to be a registered member of Couchsurfing.



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