The United Russia Front

0510-OUNITE-Russia-Putin_full_380.jpgPutin’s decision to create an All-Russia People’s Front, announced at a United Russia conference in Volgograd on Friday, sparked a flurry of analysis as to the Prime Minister’s motivations, beyond its ostensible aim of creating an inclusive political vehicle in Russian society.  Commentators have identified the move as a reaction to dwindling popularity ratings of the Prime Minister and President noted in March, the disappointing performance of United Russia in the same month’s regional elections, and the desire to consolidate personal political power amid talks of a play for power from sidekick Medvedev in the upcoming presidential election. (It is interesting to note that the Prime Minister’s proposal includes some strategic initiatives relating to business and innovation of a distinctly Medvedevian bent.)  Many have pointed to the inherently problematic nature of a ‘peoples” front which is entirely geared around the scepter of an imperious United Russia.  The following analysis from CSM points out why the Prime Minister is unlikely to care:

“Putin [who leads United Russia] aims to secure his own position in caseof a poor showing by the party in the coming Duma elections,” saysNikolai Petrov, an expert with the Carnegie Center in Moscow. “The ideais to add some fresh faces, so that the candidate list doesn’t justconsist of the same old dull bureaucrats and corrupt officials. It’sjust an electoral scheme.”

But it also reflects Putin’s personal ambitions, he adds. The former president has never seen himself as an ordinary politician, but rather as a “national leader” who sits astride society and speaks for all Russians.

There is a kind of Czarist psychology at work here,” says Mr. Petrov.”The Czar must be the leader of all, not just the representative of onepolitical party or tendency.” 

Some say it may be a deeper attempt to reengineer society. “Thisreminds of Mussolini’s idea of corporatism, of bringing all socialforces under the control of one man,” says Andrei Kolesnikov, opinioneditor of the opposition newspaper Novaya Gazeta. “It has thesedisturbing connotations, though I think it’s just a scheme to help winelections, and it will fall apart after that. At least I hope so.”

Read the whole article here.