- Political party. Known in Russian as Iedinaia Rossiia, United Russia is currently the country’s largest political party. The party was created in 2001 with the merger of Sergey Shoygu’s pro-government Unity party and Yury Luzhkov’s centrist Fatherland—All Russia. With the backing of then-President Vladimir Putin, United Russia quickly became Russia’s “party of power,” attracting a large number of regional governors and members of the country’s political elite, including Mintimer Shaymiyev.From 2002 until 2008, the party was led by Boris Gryzlov, chairman of the State Duma and a close ally of Putin. Since its inception, United Russia has been closely associated with Putin, who became chairman in 2008 in a successful bid to become prime minister after two terms as president. The platform is centrist, conservative, and patriotic, and relies on support from the Kremlin and populism to maintain its position. Its stated aim is to raise Russian living standards to European levels, and it argues that such nationwide progress will only come with presidential-parliamentary cooperation. United Russia supports a strong presidency, anti-corruption measures, increased military spending, improved social welfare, streamlining of government functions, and the elevation of Russia’s standing as a world power.United Russia opposes radicalism on the right and the left, placing it at odds with the Communist Party of the Russian Federation (KPRF) as well as neofascist groups like the National Bolsheviks. It also advocates the idea of Russia as a “sovereign democracy,” free to pursue its own political development without interference from other members of the international community. In 2003, in its first appearance in parliamentary elections, the party took 37 percent of the vote and 223 of the State Duma’s 450 seats, trouncing the KPRF and other parties. It then threw its full support behind Putin’s reelection campaign in 2004, resulting in the incumbent winning 71 percent of the vote. By 2005, United Russia expanded its seats in the Duma to 305 and controlled nearly half of the Federation Council as well. Its activities in advance of the 2007 parliamentary elections drew criticism from a number of domestic and international election-monitoring agencies, including GOLOS and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe.Vladimir Putin’s decision to place himself at the top of the party’s list also guaranteed United Russia’s exceptional performance. In the final tally, United Russia won 64 percent of the vote. Due to a new 7 percent minimum threshold, only three other parties—the KPRF, the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia, and Fair Russia—gained seats in the Duma, resulting in United Russia controlling 315 of the house’s 450 seats. The new majority eliminated any barriers to presidential dictation and implementation of new laws in the Russian Federation. In 2008, the party supported Dmitry Medvyedev’s candidacy for president, and facilitated the transition of Putin from president to prime minister. Founded in 2005, the Young Guard (Molodaia gvardiia) is the party’s youth movement. The party commands nearly 1 million members and has a presence in all of Russia’s regions.See also Nashi; Vertical of power.
Historical Dictionary of the Russian Federation. Robert A. Saunders and Vlad Strukov. 2010.
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