By Ria Novosti
By Marina Selina
On Saturday, the United Russia (UR) party officially nominated its candidate for the presidency. There was no surprise that this is Prime Minister Vladimir Putin. Experts believe that the atmosphere of the party conference was meant to demonstrate to the voters and the opposition the confidence of UR leaders in their victory in both the Duma and the presidential elections.
A new stage?
The UR conference confirmed that there is no discord among the ruling tandem. “We are officially determining our final strategy, not for a short term but for a long perspective. Everything is abundantly clear,” President Dmitry Medvedev said.
At the conference Vladimir Putin, now the official presidential nominee, defined the main mandate of Russian society as social justice and announced the beginning of a new stage in the development of Russia.
Experts believe a path towards social justice is a good choice for the presidential campaign. As for a new stage in the development of the nation, there is unlikely to be anything new here of note. According to Deputy Director of the Center for Political Environment Alexei Zudin, “Most likely, they will translate into reality the ideas and projects that have been discussed during the current year.”
However, experts believe that despite the ruling party’s obvious confidence in a positive outcome of the forthcoming elections, they are nonetheless having some difficulties. This is evidenced by tough criticism of the opposition by Medvedev, Putin and Duma Speaker Boris Gryzlov. Vice President of the Center for Political Tecyhnology Alexei Makarkin recalls, “The UR ratings have been falling in the last few months. Active criticism of the opposition indicates the start of the election race.”
“Everything is abundantly clear”
The second stage of the conference (Medvedev proposed Putin’s candidacy at the first stage in late September) gathered about 11,000 delegates from across Russia. Medvedev called Putin “the most popular, experienced and successful politician of modern Russia.” He said that Putin is trusted by the vast majority of our citizens who associate him with their aspirations for the future.
Medvedev recalled the ruling party’s social and economic achievements over the past few years. “Income levels have grown several times, poverty has decreased by twice, the life span has increased by several years and the birth rate has also gone up. Agriculture has become a profitable industry,” the president said. He also said that a large middle class has formed in Russia and that it was rescued from bankruptcy by vigorous support of the economy during the crisis.
“But this has not rained down on us like manna from heaven. This is a result of the policy of the ruling party,” the president said. He said that the party has clear-cut plans, including the formation of a professional and open government.
“The party is tuning itself to victory, a reminder that much has been done but there is even more that lies ahead,” Zudin said. Director of the Agency of Political and Economic Communications Dmitry Orlov told RIA Novosti, “The ruling elite are convinced of their own victory. The united team of the ruling elite is confident in the positive results of both the Duma and the presidential elections.”
A stake on justice
Experts believe that although Putin presented no surprises in his speech, he outlined the points that will feature prominently during the election campaign. “More than once during its history Russia has set itself great goals and achieved success by rallying around our common values: truth, dignity and justice,” he said.
The prime minister believes that the main mandate of Russian society is to ensure justice. “Every decision we make and every step we take must align with the interests of the absolute majority,” Putin said. He believes that in order to achieve this it is necessary to diversify taxes and tax luxury and over-consumption more heavily.
Experts believe that as a presidential nominee, Putin has chosen the right issue. “Different aspects of justice are an absolutely proper choice,” Orlov said. According to Zudin, “The three main values are truth, dignity and justice. I don’t remember him offering this set of values before. These words about justice are not just an election slogan. Putin has defined the key values for Russia’s political and general development.”
However, not all experts share Putin’s sentiments about justice. “This is probably just an attempt to intercept the opposition’s slogans, but it’s too late to do this at the final stages of the [Duma] campaign,” Makarkin believes. Yevgeny Minchenko, director of the International Institute of Political Environment said, “It is yet unclear what message is contained in Putin’s statements about social justice, except that they are electoral slogans, and whether they will lead to any practical results.”
Putin also mentioned two other subjects that will be actively used in his election campaign: the formation of the Eurasian Union and potential intrigues of foreign enemies.
The views expressed in this article are the author’s and may not necessarily represent those of RIA Novosti.