Vladimir Putin has announced that the United Russia's congress will be held in early September, when it may finally be revealed whether or not the Prime Minister will run for the presidency in 2012.
Speaking at the session of the Russian Popular Front's co-ordinating council on Thursday, Putin suggested calling the majority party’s congress on September 3 or 4.
"I think that we need to hold a congress of the party at the very beginning of September in order to be able to discuss all of our ideas and suggestions in Russian regions before the elections to the State Duma," he said, as cited by Interfax.
Earlier, the Premier’s press secretary Dmitry Peskov said that the United Russia will decide on its candidacy for 2012 presidential election “at congress of the party”. It means that the main intrigue in Russian politics may finally be resolved in September and Putin will say whether he would compete for the country’s top job or not. It is still though not clear whether the upcoming gathering will be exactly the congress where the major decision will be made.
So far, neither he nor President Dmitry Medvedev has ruled out the possibility of taking part in the election. At the same time, both have stated that they would not run against each other, but would agree on which of the Medvedev-Putin tandem would be the presidential candidate. With less than a year left before the D-day, the mystery remains unsolved.
The United Russia said earlier that it would support Medvedev’s possible candidacy in the election, but only if the party’s leader Putin was not running.
Speaking on Thursday at the council’s meeting, Putin did not mention the 2012 election, but focused on this year’s parliamentary vote. The council approved a mechanism selecting possible candidates for the State Duma elections in December. It was agreed that lists of candidates will include both United Russia and the Popular Front members nominated by the party or various unions, individuals or public organizations. Later the electors will choose candidates who will participate in the elections and present the final list at the September congress.
Opening the session, Putin stressed that he would want the procedure to be “as honest, transparent and unbiased as possible.”
The prime minister noted that the All-Russia Popular Front's tasks go beyond the participation in the parliamentary elections. The movement needs among its members people who care for public, rather than personal interests.
“I would like to stress again that the front's task is not limited by the participation in the State Duma elections, even though that was the reason for the creation of this all-nation political platform,” Putin said.
Addressing the participants of the meeting, he said that he favors the idea of allowing not only individuals, unions and associations, but also workforces to join the Popular Front. However, the movement does not have an objective to let everyone in.
“There are thousands of workforces, therefore we do not have an aim to sign up…everyone without grounds. I am confident that there are a lot more people who will support us than those who would want formally to join us,” Putin observed.
According to Putin, the Popular Front should look into the future and work out a development strategy. The movement should provide for a wider public support when it comes to making “state, municipal and regional decisions.” Therefore, open discussions of most important issues must become a usual rule for the front.
“Of course, interests of the society are made up of interests of individuals,” Putin noted. However, the PM stressed that he would not want people who care for their personal interests more than for public ones to be members of the newly-created structure.
The Russian Prime Minister put forward the idea to set up the Popular Front at the ruling United Russia’s party conference in Volgograd in May this year. The major aim of the movement is to bring together different political parties, trade unions, youth and women’s organizations, veterans' groups and under a single political platform ahead of parliamentary elections in December. This, in Putin's view, would help to further public initiatives more easily, and, also, attract new supporters to United Russia.
According to Putin, the front should include people "united by the idea of strengthening our country and the idea of searching for the optimal possibilities of solving the current problems.” The prime minister also suggested that United Russia – which he chairs – give parliamentary seats to popular people with active political positions, even if they are not members of the party.