President to lead United Russia party list in Duma poll

Other News Materials 1 October 2007 21:11 (UTC +04:00)

( RT ) - The President of Russia has agreed to head the list of candidates for the United Russia party in December's parliamentary elections. The announcement was made on the first day of the party's two-day election conference in Moscow. He told delegates he would not become a party member at this stage.

When asked whether he would be prepared to become Prime Minister in the future, Vladimir Putin did not rule out the possibility.

"Leading the Government is a realistic suggestion, but it's too early to think about it, since two conditions are yet to be met. Firstly, United Russia must win the State Duma elections on December 2 this year. Second, a honest, sensible, effective and modern person must be elected President - the kind of person I could work together with," he said.

"Although one of the initiators in creating United Russia, I - like the overwhelming majority of this country - am not a member of any party. And I would not like to change this status. The changes needed to the constitution, even for a concrete person, even if this person is fully trusted, are not appropriate," Mr Putin added.

Vladimir Putin made his announcement during a speech to the party faithful on the opening day of the conference.

In his speech to delegates, he also touched on the connection between big business and politics and other important issues.

"I've mentioned before that money and power should exist separately. Representatives of major businesses are no doubt well respected people. A lot of things depend on them in the country and in the economy. And of course they're capable of contributing to the party, not only financially but ideologically also. But is it really necessary for them to be on the party lists? Do they need to be involved in major business and at the same time have the privilige of a State Duma Deputy's immunity?

You have tied your party's strategy to the name of the acting President and your humble servant. The logic of election campaigning may support this move. But in this case I doubt it needed such 'personification'. Especially since its author is not somebody in particular, but a large number of people. In its essence, it is a result of a collective work by the Government, by regional and local authorities, by the Central Bank, by both chambers of the Russian Parliament.

Our economy has grown by 60% over the past seven years. The real income - I stress it, real income - of our citizens more then doubled in that time. We have made the first and most urgent steps in terms of health care and education. Positive trends can be seen in the demographic situation. And these achievements were made in no last regard thanks to the national projects we have developed and implemented," Mr Putin declared.

United Russia has a huge majority in the current Parliament, holding 305 out of the 450 seats.

The next congress of United Russia will be held after December's parliamentary elections.

At that conference, the party's candidate for the presidential election in 2008 will be named.