Komsomolskaya Pravda: "Putin gives up United Russia leadership to Medvedev"


The president-elect has explained to the ruling party why he cannot be their leader any longer.

The president-elect has explained to the ruling party why he cannot be their leader any longer.

After the Tuesday meeting of the State Council in Vozdvizhenka Street, Vladimir Putin met with the core members of the United Russia party. The mood was gloomy, since they expected the newly elected president to leave the post of party leader, even if they did not know it for certain.

Putin reminded them about the difficult path covered by the ruling party, which was established in 2001. "It was formed under very difficult circumstances, when the economy and the social sphere were degrading and separatism was rampant," he said and thanked the party for its coordinated and effective teamwork with the government during the global economic crisis.

"If the government and the majority of the State Duma hadn't worked in such a coordinated manner as they did in the past two or three years, then many more of our citizens would have felt the cold abyss into which Russia could have plunged," Putin stressed.

He recalled that now it is time for the most important and most difficult part – to fulfil the tasks outlined during the election campaign.

"In our political tradition the president is a non-partisan figure," he told the United Russia core members by way of explaining why he had invited them to the meeting. "The Constitution does not forbid the president from being a member of any political party, but [...] the president is primarily a consolidating figure for all political forces.

Therefore, I consider it proper to resign as chairman of United Russia. Second, I will ask you and party members to hold an extraordinary convention in the second half of May. Dmitry Medvedev topped the United Russia party list during the State Duma elections and as president I will nominate him for the position of Russian prime minister," Putin said.

"I very much hope that we will continue to cooperate and, moreover, to do real work together," he promised.

He then gave the floor to Boris Gryzlov, chairman of United Russia's Supreme Council.

"Some say this is the decline of the party, but that's not the case," Gryzlov said. "The pink light visible on the horizon is the dawn. Your nomination of Dmitry Medvedev to the post of party chairman will be approved by all of the convention's delegates, I think."

Sergei Neverov, Secretary of the Presidium of United Russia's General Council, said that the secretaries of United Russia branches in the regions would now be elected, whereas in the past they were nominated by the central authorities. Putin supported the innovation.

"If candidates are nominated in a bureaucratic procedure, they will have very few chances to be elected as the heads of their regions," Putin said.

Andrei Vorobyov, leader of the Untied Russia party in parliament, expressed the party's reaction to the fact that Putin was leaving the party.

"This has become a very exciting meeting, although with some sad overtones," he said. "We reserve the right to synchronise our legislative initiatives and other ideas [with you]. We have scored some achievements – history will decide how many."

Vorobyov also praised Dmitry Medvedev's address in the State Council earlier that day, saying that it was a wonderful speech.

State Duma deputy Alexander Khinshtein asked Putin if the ruling party could criticise the government. He added that, for example, actual figures for homebuyers cheated out of their money by dishonest real estate companies are 1.5 times as high as the statistics offered by the Regional Development Ministry.

"I'm under the impression that we won't be able to resolve the problem this year," Khinshtein said.

Putin responded that "the problem with cheated homebuyers is a result of poorly worded legislation. Had the government erected a barrier to such dishonest schemes, the scoundrels would have stood no chance of success. I want to emphasise that the responsibility for this rests, in the first place, with parliament."

He suggested the legislators should carefully analyse the proposals at issue.

The ruling party "shouldn't criticise [the government] for the sake of criticising or just to show how tough it is," Putin said, explaining how United Russia should operate in parliament.

"As far as cheated homebuyers are concerned, this problem should be resolved at the regional level, above all," he said.

The government should only "regulate, coordinate somehow, and it could also provide some regions with additional federal aid. But we should try to avoid creating a culture of..." Putin stopped, at a loss for the right word.

"Paternalism," Khinshtein suggested.

"And of parasitism," Putin added. He said that regional governments had assured him the issue of cheated homebuyers would be resolved this year.

After that, Putin's meeting with the sad core members of United Russia continued behind closed doors.

Larisa Kaftan