United Russia emerged about a decade ago to create a vehicle for then Prime Minister Vladimir Putin to become President, following the expiration of Boris Yeltsin’s two terms. It is in this “Support Vladimir Putin” framework that the party has existed. It brought Dmitry Medvedev into the presidency in 2008 and will undoubtedly do the same for Mr. Putin in 2012. The party has been criticized as a “trade union of bureaucrats”, “party of rouges and thieves” and Mikhail Gorbachev called it a “bad copy” of the Communist party that ruled Russia until 1991.
Lets look at some of the realities created by United Russia since its’ founding.
If you mention United Russia to a person outside of the Russian Federation, you’ll get many quizzical expressions, mention Vladimir Putin and your on stronger footing. Vladimir Putin is the face of that party. Therefore, the party largely exists for Putin and advocates of his policy.
They’ve always made sure to have 2/3 majority of Duma seats necessary to amend the constitution to allow for longer presidential term limits, higher electoral thresholds and spates full of new state regulation that have heavily curtailed free speech and electoral choice within the Russian Federation.
7% electoral thresholds coupled with United Russia’s media dominance makes opposition virtually impossible.
Let’s see: Highly personalized leadership, state control over media, little meaningful electoral choice…United Russia sure sounds like a copy of the Soviet Communist party.