The United Russia Party was formed during the spring - autumn of 2001, through the gradual unification of parties from the "Unity" and "Fatherland - All Russia" blocs, which had competed for election to the State Duma of the III convocation in 1999. It also absorbed the remains of the former ruling party, "Our home - Russia".
While it was not the first attempt in modern Russia to create a party that would be guided by the executive power and have a majority in parliament, it was the first successful one (previously, there were no successes beyond parliamentary coalitions).
1993-1998. Single-use "parties of power"
Boris Yeltsin, Russia's first president, showed a somewhat detached attitude to all attempts to create a "party of power". In the 1993 elections, neither Egor Gaidar's "Choice of Russia" Party, whose list included 10 ministers, nor the "Russian Unity and Accord" Party with four ministers and support proclaimed for Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin, got any public support from Yeltsin. Moreover, nine members of the government headed by First Deputy Prime Minister Oleg Soskovets, signed an "apolitical manifesto" - a statement to refuse to run for the Duma and associate themselves with any particular election party.
By the 1995 elections, Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin, eight Ministers, 37 governors and several future oligarchs advocated the establishment of a power party (the "Our Home - Russia" movement) to be headed by the head of the government. Yeltsin initially suggested that the government planned to create two parties - a center-right one lead by Prime Minister Chernomyrdin, and a center-left one lead by speaker of the Duma, Ivan Rybkin. Eventually, everyone who was to the left at all abandoned Rybkin as they felt dismayed by Yeltsin. Closer to the elections, in answering whether Our Home - Russia would win, Yeltsin skeptically predicted it would get six to seven percent of the vote. OHR got 10.13% of the vote, forming serious opposition to the pro-communist Duma II parliamentary majority. Yeltsin later repeated Luzhkov in saying that the OHR would have won not 10% but 20% of the vote if not for Chubais (who had once been on OHR's organizing committee, although by that time he had no relation to OHR while still being associated to Chernomyrdin as his deputy). Wits added, "If it wasn't Chernomyrdin - then they would have won 40%, and if not for Yeltsin - then all 80%".
Following the resignation of Chernomyrdin in March 1998 (and, in particular, after a disastrous attempt to bring him back in August - September), the governors - the main managers of electoral administrative resources - began to slowly leave OHR to look for a new power center. By early 1999, the president had completely lost the support of the Federation Council, which consisted precisely of the governors (and the speakers of legislative assemblies), with the Duma considering his impeachment (lacking only 17 votes to make the required three hundred).
1999. Tug of governors
In February 1999, Samara Governor Konstantin Titov was nearly successful in building a bloc called "Voice of Russia" with the participation of three dozen governors. However, his attempts to give the block a distinct liberal political undertone discouraged the governors, leaving Titov with no alternative but to join the remnants of his bloc to the newly-forming Union of Right Forces (SRF).
"All Russia", the new governor bloc headed by Mintimer Shaimiev, Murtaza Rakhimov and Vladimir Yakovlev emerged in April 1999 and brought together 17 heads of regions.
Meanwhile, Yuri Luzhkov joined in the "Fatherland" movement, which he himself had created in December 1998 and which included twelve governors and many influential socio-political organizations, from Mikhail Shmakov and Andrei Isayev's trade union to Dmitry Rogozin's Congress of Russian Communities (the CRC left the "Fatherland" in June 1999).
On August 17, 1999, "Fatherland" and "All Russia" agreed on joint participation in the elections under the leadership of ex-Prime Minister Evgeny Primakov who they believed to be the most popular politician in the country. A day earlier, Vladimir Putin, Federal Security Service Director, former First Deputy Mayor of St. Petersburg, OHR political council member, and the future successor of President Yeltsin (as announced by Yeltsin himself), was elected Prime Minister by the State Duma with a narrow majority of 233 votes (with 226 needed).
The "Fatherland - All Russia" bloc (with the three leaders - Primakov, Luzhkov and Yakovlev) built their campaign largely on anti-Yeltsin (and to some extent - anti-Putin) rhetoric and on promises to end unpopular reforms and engage in social policy.
Six governors remained loyal to Chernomyrdin and entered OHR's list. The OHR bloc could not be called completely pro-Yeltsin either. Vladimir Ryzhkov, holder of position two on OHR's electoral list, tried to see OHR guided by center-right ideological forces.
The birth of Medved
In late September at the end of the second month of the election campaign, a bloc formed with the view of supporting the current President and Prime Minister, with the Minister of Emergency Situations Sergei Shoigu as its leader. The bloc was formed with the active support of Boris Berezovsky without whom the forthcoming victory of Fatherland — All Russia would have been an almost inevitable catastrophe (Berezovsky personally campaigned in the regions and met with the governors). The idea to back the popular non-political (although formally an OHR political council member) Minister of Presidential Administration was borrowed from a political writer Dmitry Bykov. The name "Muzhik", proposed by Berezovsky, was rejected. The bloc was instead called the "Interregional Unity Movement (MEDVED)."
A statement in support of the bloc was signed by 30 governors, including Dmitry Ayatskov (number three on OHR's electoral list), Aman Tuleyev (number four on the Communist Party list) and four defectors from the Fatherland - All Russia bloc. The statement's main theme was a fundamentally apolitical approach:
"The politicized faction deprived the Legislative Assembly of the most important thing - the ability to express the aspirations of the regions. That is why we have taken on the responsibility of forming a new Duma in full compliance with the acute need of our society: Russian laws must not be biased in favor of the interests of Moscow's political elite and party leaders, but should favor the sum of interests of the regions.
We have made a principled decision to use our authority and power in our regions to help Sergei Shoigu, the leader of the Interregional Unity Movement and a person of impeccable honesty and courage, assemble a force capable of winning the December Duma elections."
In full accordance with this manifesto, bloc organizers chose seven not influential organizations for its formal founding, the most renowned of which included Alexandr Chuev's Russian Christian Democratic Party, the People's Patriotic Party consisting of Afghan War veterans led by Frantsem Klintsevich, and the "Refah" Islamic Movement led by Abdul-Vahed Niyazov. The MEDVED leadership (although not the electoral list) included nine governors, for the main part not the most popular in the Moscow political environment (Gorbenko, Rutskoi, Nazdratenko and Ilyumzhinov). Only one of these, Platov, was included on the candidates list along with a few leaders of the bloc's founding organizations and many people not previously involved in politics.
The top three candidates on the federal list were Sergei Shoigu, the Greco-Roman wrestling champion Alexander Karelin, and Police General Alexander Gurov. The party's election campaign commercials began with the slogan "Russia must be saved!" This was followed by Shoigu's answer, "We will save our country ourselves".
Counter-propaganda against Fatherland-All Russia was made by the First Channel (ORT), where Sergei Dorenko put out a variety of negative stories about Luzhkov and Primakov. On the other hand, the TV channels NTV and TVC worked in favor of FAR.
On November 24, 1999, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, who was gradually gaining popularity (for example by starting the second Chechen military campaign), said that "as a citizen" he supports the Unity bloc.
Unity's result in the December 19, 1999 elections was 15,549,182 votes (23.32% of the vote, only 1% less than the Communists) against Fatherland - All Russia's 8,886,753 votes (13.33%). This was an overwhelming result for both blocs. Our Home - Russia won only 1.19% of the vote, although it did manage to gain seats for 7 single-seat district candidates, including V. Chernomyrdin and V. Ryzhkova, who had joined the Unity faction.
December 31 - before the start of the new Duma - was marked by the resignation of President Yeltsin. His powers were transferred to Prime Minister Putin. Early presidential elections were called for March 26. "All Russia", led by M. Shaimiev, and - after some hesitation - "Fatherland", led by Yuri Luzhkov, announced their support of Putin for the presidential election. Evgeny Primakov refused to run for President, although this had already been announced in the Duma. He nonetheless supported not Putin, but his opponent Stanislav Govorukhin.
The Third Duma. "Lumps" for the "Fatherland"
As a result of elections, which included single-seat districts, the communists led (with 113 deputies, 95 of which entered the faction), followed by Unity (73 deputies and 81 joining the faction), followed by FAR (66 deputies with 43 in the faction), then SPS (29 deputies and 33 in the faction), Yabloko (20, 21), and finally the Zhirinovskiy bloc (17). Communists tactically shared their deputies with the agro-industrial group (36 members), and FAR with the "Regions of Russia" group (40 members). The ninth deputy association was Gennady Raikov's vaguely centrist group "People's Deputy" (55). The Unity faction was headed by Boris Gryzlov, while the FAR faction was headed by Evgeny Primakov. Shoigu, Luzhkov and Yakovlev refused their Duma mandates and stayed, respectively, in the government, in the City Hall and in governorship.
The leaders of Unity found a way to prevent the creation of a coalition of the left (the Communist Party and ADG) with the center-left (FAR and RWP), neutralizing the communists with an unexpected proposal to retain the Duma speaker position for Gennady Seleznev in the new convocation. Evgeny Primakov (as leader of the center) and Sergei Stepashin, who was elected from "Yabloko" as a compromise candidate, have previously been seriously expecting to take the position of the speaker.
On January 17, 2000, the day before the first session of the Duma, the factions held traditional negotiations for the modern Russian Duma for the proportional distribution of chairperson's posts in the committees. However on January 18, Unity, the Communists, the Agrarians, the Liberal Democratic Party and the People's Deputy gathered in separate negotiations (closed from the other factions) and agreed on the division of chairperson posts in committees in each other's favor. The other four factions (representing nearly one-third of the Duma), were suggested to lead three committees out of 27 (that is, 1/9th of the total committees), with these being not the most influential either. In a fit of anger over this, Primakov called the factions "lumps". FAR, Yabloko, SPS and part of Regions of Russia left the session in protest and formed an opposition coalition minority, which boycotted Duma meetings for three weeks, before resigning to their fate.
Subsequently, political grievances were forgotten, and the majority vote on the various bills in the Duma was either from the "reformist" majority (Unity, People's Deputy, FAR, RWP, SPS and Yabloko), the "statists" (Unity, People's Deputy, the Communist Party, ADG, part of the FAR and RWP), the "socialists" (the Communist Party, ADG, FAR, RWP, part of the SPS and Yabloko), or the "federalists" (the Communist Party, ADG, Unity, ND, SPS, and Yabloko). The government could only unconditionally rely on the votes of the Unity faction, which often voted solo for known unpopular bills and against obviously popular ones (for example, against the amendment banning the country-wide introduction of hourly pay phones by the Ministry of Communications).
There were also broader coalitions in the Duma. Thus, in December 2000, Duma voted by an overwhelming majority (of all but SPS and Yabloko deputies) for the return of the Soviet anthem instead of the "Patriotic Song" by Glinka. At the same time and in the same scenario, a package of laws was passed abolishing the ban on the import of radioactive waste into Russia and its burial on Russian territory.
In January - February 2001, the specter of a center-left bloc (FAR, RWP, the Communist Party, ADG, part of ND and Yabloko) arose when considering amendments to the budget. Thanks to their voices, Duma failed to pass an amendment that would allow the privatization of large enterprises without the consent of Parliament. In discussing this issue, Evgeniy Primakov, the leader of FAR publicly addressed Finance Minister Kudrin as a boss might address his subordinate.
MEDVED party building
At its congress on December 28, 1999, the Unity bloc had already announced the creation of the eponymous movement headed by Sergei Shoigu. The movement's founding congress took place on February 21, 2000.
On May 27, 2000, the movement was transformed into a party at its second congress. The party was joined by the remnants of "Our Home - Russia" (most of the assets of which had long been leaked into Unity), as well as Sergei Shakhrai's reduced in size Russian Unity and Accord Party (PRES) and Vladimir Bryntsalov's Russian Socialist Party (RSP). Sergei Shoigu was elected leader of the party and Boris Gryzlov was elected the Chairman of the Political Council.
Due to the forthcoming affiliation of Our Home – Russia, the "People's Deputy" group and the main core group of "Regions of Russia" formed the party's Supervisory Board with S. Shoigu, V. Chernomyrdin, G. Raykov and Tatarstan speaker Farid Mukhametshin. The idea of affiliating "People's Deputy" was soon abandoned: in September 2001, Gennady Raikov's movement became the People's Party of the Russian Federation.
On March 28, 2001, Gryzlov was appointed Minister of Internal Affairs, and the leader of the Duma faction was replaced by Vladimir Pehtin, while Franz Klintsevich replaced Gryzlov as Acting Chairman of the Party's Political Council.
On April 12, 2001, the leaders of "Unity" party and "Fatherland" organization Sergei Shoigu and Yury Luzhkov announced their intention to create a unified political structure and in the future, a single party. Vitaly Tretyakov, the Chief Editor of "Nezavisimaya Gazeta" ("Independent Journal"), immediately suggested the formation of a new unifying name "EDiOT" (from the initial letters of names of parties in Russian, "Edinstvo" and "Otechestvo")
Within 5 days, a coalition of four factions - Unity, FAR, Regions of Russia and People's Deputy - was formed in the Duma with a total number of 237 deputies. However, given the fact that the PP group had about a dozen of moderate left deputies (Victor Alksnis, Oleg Shein, Valentine Savostyanova and others) and almost as many in the FAR, the coalition had to get votes from other parties to pass government bills, especially for "liberal right" bills, so needing to compromise with its own "left" minority, or - more often - to negotiate support from the LDPR faction. Primakov said that he was moving away from party building and on September 3, 2001, he resigned from the Chairman position, which was then passed on to Vyacheslav Volodin.
The issue with the union of party structures was resolved by December. Initially, there were two "subjects" involved in the association - Sergei Shoigu's Unity and Yuri Luzhkov's FAR. On April 23, these formed a Coordination Board on an equal basis (with 8 members from each).
Likewise, combined structures were formed on July 12, 2001 at the founding congress of the inverse image of a new party - the Unity and Fatherland union. Four people on each side were elected for the General Council of the Union, plus Alexander Bespalov (the employee of the executive committee of Unity), who became the Chairman of the Executive Committee of the Union for years to come. He became the party's main moving force, and remained so until the beginning of 2003.
Later, it was decided to make the coalition trilateral: Unity - Fatherland - All Russia. At the II Congress of the Union held on October 27, 2001, the latter received a quota of 1/3 representation in the governing bodies and a third co-chair position (for M.Shaimiev) along with Shoigu and Luzhkov.
The III Congress of the Union held on December 1, 2001, transformed it into the All-Russian political party "Unity and Fatherland" - United Russia.
The first test of strength for "Unity and Fatherland" was the election for the Moscow City Duma held on December 16, 2001, assigned prior to the merger of the parties. As early as in September, the Moscow part of Unity held negotiations with SPS and Yabloko on a single anti-Luzhkov list, as Fatherland wouldn't agree to support Unity candidates in half of the districts. It ended with the signing of "the pact of four" (Luzhkov - Shoigu - Nemtsov - Yavlinsky), according to which Unity candidates received 7 of the 35 districts, with Fatherland getting 7, independent Luzhkov supporters getting 10, SPS (mainly - candidates loyal to Luzhkov) getting 7, and Yabloko getting 4. The candidates from the pact won in 33 of 35 districts.
April 2002. A small revolution in the Duma
By early 2002, the "bloc of centrist factions" became a reality, controlling the majority of votes in the Duma (usually backed up by the Liberal Democratic Party). There were discussions on the need for the redistribution of positions in favor of the pro-presidential coalition from the spring 2001 when Alexander Shokhin made a statement in "Nezavisimaya Gazeta" on the transfer of Chairman positions for all committees to the majority, as is customary, for example, in the United States.
Heavy attack began in March. By the majority of votes, Gennady Seleznev, the Chairman of the State Duma, was deprived of holding the casting vote in the Duma Council. Soon he was forced to dismiss Nicholai Troshkin, the Head of the Duma apparatus, and Vladimir Isakov, Head of the Legal Department, who were accused of pushing the pro-communist course.
In early April, four factions initiated a redistribution of power in the Duma by depriving the Communists and the Agrarian Party members of seven committee chairmen positions and by transferring these quotas to the FAR faction (3 Committees), the SPS faction (2 positions), PP (1 position) and Yabloko (1 position). As a protest, leaders of the Communist Party decided to withdraw their remaining three committee chairmen and the Speaker of the Duma, Gennady Seleznev. Seleznev did not obey, and as a result lost his party membership card.
The left wing was replaced with "centrists" in the Committee of State Building (with Valery Grebennikov instead of Anatoly Lukyanov), the Committee of Industry (Martin Shakkum instead of Yuriy Maslyukov) and the Committee of Agrarian Issues (Gennady Kulik instead of Vladimir Plotnikov). This significantly affected legislative processes. Among the achievements of the new parliamentary majority were laws that laid the foundations of the regime of managed democracy: a new law "On Basic Guarantees of Electoral Rights..." (April 2002), the law "On Countering Extremist Activity" (June 2002), an amendment to the law "On Referendums", which prohibits the holding of referendums in each last year of the Duma's office and the President's office.
United Russia deputies in the Duma III convocation also voted:
- For a new law on citizenship, which equated former citizens of the USSR to any other foreigners in terms of obtaining Russian citizenship;
- For the abolition of the moratorium on the purchase/sale of land;
- For the Soviet anthem, the tricolor flag, the red flag of the Armed Forces and the coat of arms with the two-headed eagle.
New Vasyuki and changes in management
On November 20, 2002, the Supreme Party Council elected Interior Minister Boris Gryzlov as both the party's co-chairman and chairman. It also formed the Supreme Council Bureau consisting of Boris Gryzlov, Sergei Shoigu, Yury Luzhkov and Mintimer Shaimiev.
At the same time, while the Supreme Council remained a largely representative body, party policy was determined by the General Council headed by Alexander Bespalov, as well as the Central Executive Committee (CEC), also led by him.
In December 2002, the CEC sent a draft of the Party Manifesto for the upcoming elections to the regional organizations. Here are some excerpts from it:
"Our specific program is: After winning the election in December 2003, we will start right away in 2004 with:
- A program of modernization of the energy complex
- Mass construction of individual housing
- A program of developing a new Russian transport network
- A technological revolution in Russian agriculture
- The rapid growth of the income of all categories of citizens
As a result, as soon as:
- 2004, every citizen of Russia will pay half the current price for heating and electricity
- 2005, every citizen of Russia will get a share of Russia's natural resources
- 2006, everyone will work in his own profession
- 2008, every family will have their own comfortable housing fitting to the third millennium regardless of their present level of income
- 2008, Chechnya and the entire North Caucasus will have become a tourist resort and the "Mecca" of Russia
- 2010, a St. Petersburg - Anadyr highway, a Tokyo - Vladivostok - Brest highway and others will have been built
- 2017, Russia will be the world leader in politics and economy
You say that this cannot happen? It will! We are the United Russia Party and we'll do it! (...) Did the Russian bear sleep for too long? We'll wake him up. Is everyone waiting for the Russian Miracle? We will create it. Do we need a national idea? We have it. "
Such unrestrained promises were disliked not only by colleagues in the party leadership, but also by the leadership of the presidential administration, and they started looking for a new position for Alexander Bespalov.
On February 27, 2003, Alexey Miller appointed Bespalov to the position of Head of the Information Policy Department of Gazprom JSC. Bespalov formally remained the Chairman of the General Council up to March 29, 2003, when the II Congress of the party took place. As the result of the Congress activity, the positions of the Head of the General Council (which got a more modest name - not the Chairman, but the Secretary), and of the CEC Chairman were divided and granted, respectively, to Valery Bogomolov (Head of the HR of the Federation Council) and Yuri Volkov (Advisor of the Federation Council Chairman).
Speaking at the congress, Boris Gryzlov declared the party's loyalty to President Vladimir Putin and condemned the inefficiency of government, however in a critical part of his speech he neither mentioned the name of Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov, nor any of the ministers. In 2003, Gordeyev Alexei, the Minister of Agriculture, joined the party (previously he was member of the Agrarian Party). He became the third Minister of the United Russia party (along with Gryzlov and Shoigu).
2003. Taking the Duma
In the Duma elections of December 7, 2003, the United Russia Party acted under the slogan "Together with the president!" According to official figures it received 22,779,279 votes or 37.57% (after correction for falsified results in Adygea in July 2005 - 22,776,294 votes, 37.56%) and 220 seats in the Duma. The faction was joined by a dozen of single-mandate deputies from the People's Party of the Russian Federation, all three members of SPS, one deputy from Yabloko and 60 independent deputies. Thus, on December 29, 2003, on the first day of the State Duma's new office, the faction had a constitutional majority with exactly 300 deputies (by the middle of January 2004 this had already grown to 306). The faction protected itself from the creation of deputy groups in the Duma outside its control. They passed an amendment to the Duma Regulations to increase the minimum number of participants to register a group from 35 to 55.
On December 24, 2003, the IV Congress of the Party removed the prefix "Unity and Fatherland" from the party's name, changing this to United Russia. Young activists from Eduard Limonov's NBP sneaked into the "Congress of Victors" and threw raw chicken eggs and packets of mayonnaise at the participants.
Boris Gryzlov was elected the leader of the United Russia faction and Chairman of the State Duma of the IV convocation. UR deputies won 7 out of 10 Vice Chairman positions in the Duma as members of the State Duma board. This included Lyubov Sliska and Alexander Zhukov who became the first Vice Chairmen. UR deputies led all 28 State Duma committees.
From the very beginning, the UR faction in the IV Duma convocation was divided into four organizational inter-faction groups headed by: Vyacheslav Volodin (later replaced by Valery Ryazanskiy), Oleg Morozov, Vladimir Pekhtin and Vladimir Katrenko. All of these five deputies were in the Presidium of the party's General Council while also being in the Supreme Council of United Russia.
In July - August 2004, the Duma passed a law, which was given the informal name of "monetization of benefits". From 283 to 296 deputies of United Russia voted in favor of this (according to different readings). After the law was put into action in January 2005, nationwide demonstrations took place, which were unprecedented in scope for the recent years. Demonstrators took over administration buildings and blocked roads.
In autumn 2004, with the votes of UR and some votes from the Liberal Democratic Party and Fatherland, the Duma adopted a new Housing Code. In May 2005, it abolished single-member districts for elections to the State Duma; in July 2005 it banned electoral blocs; in June 2006 it canceled the option "opposed to all candidates" in elections at all levels; and in November 2006 it canceled the minimum turnout threshold for the recognition of elections.
The UR in the Duma IV convocation also voted:
- To reform the electric power industry "after Chubais";
- For the monetization of benefits;
- For amendments to the federal constitutional law "On Referendums", which prohibits referendums on matters within the exclusive competence of bodies of state power (that is, virtually everything).
Who makes the decisions?
If differences of opinion continued in the III State Duma in the Fatherland - All Russia faction and, even more so, with Regions of Russia in the IV State Duma, the United Russia faction voted with exclusive discipline. Only on occasion did 3 to 4 deputies (mostly Boris Reznik, Konstantin Zatulin, Valery Zubov, Anton Bakov, and Yury Spiridonov) shy away from voting for the most odious laws (unpopular among the liberal press) by abstaining or not even pressing their buttons.
There are different opinions about where in fact the decisions are made, which the majority of the United Russia faction representatives in the State Duma allegedly make by pressing their buttons. It is obvious that these cannot be made by one person, if only because no earthly being is able to grasp the whole mass of legislation regulations which pass through the Duma. The question then arises: if the decisions are still made collectively, where is this committee located and of whom does it consist?
One of the versions says that these decisions are made by a group of persons in the president's administration headed by Mr. Vladislav Surkov. Deputy Anatoly Ermolin, who was expelled from the UR faction and later joined SPS, wrote a letter to the Constitutional Court describing how, on July 6, 2004, he, together with 15 other deputies, was invited to the Kremlin to meet with "senior staff of the Presidential Administration". "At the meeting, in a totally rude manner, it was announced that we are not MPs and elected officials but that we are 'tied together' and that on this basis, none of us should dare to vote in the Duma at our sole discretion." It was hinted to the MP-businessmen that the same thing that happened to YUKOS might happen to them.
At the same time, a number of parliamentary correspondent witnesses indicate that long and heated debates often take place at the meetings of the Presidium of the United Russia faction in the Duma, which take place on Mondays. Bills and amendments, which hurt anyone's interests, are discussed in full detail. Following the discussion, a table is made with bills that should be put on the agenda, bills that should be postponed, and projects and specific amendments that should be supported or not supported.
The faction Presidium for the Duma IV convocation consisted of 14 members. These are speaker Boris Gryzlov (faction leader), Valery Bogomolov, Yuri Volkov, Vyacheslav Volodin, Oleg Morozov and Vladimir Pekhtin (the First Vice-Heads of the faction), Olga Borzova, Mikhail Bugera, Andrei Vorobyov, Franz Klintsevich, Vladislav Reznik, Valery Ryazansky (Vice-Heads), Lyubov Sliska and Artur Chilingarov.
In the Duma of the V convocation, there were 15 of these members: Boris Gryzlov, the speaker (faction leader), Nikolai Bulaev, Vladimir Pekhtin, Artur Chilingarov and Tatyana Yakovleva (all First Vice-Heads), Yuri Volkov, Andrei Vorobyov, Andrey Kokoshin, Oleg Morozov, Vladislav Reznik, Lubov Sliska (Vice-Heads), Nadezhda Gerasimova, Svetlana Zhurova, Franz Klintsevich and Valery Yazev.
Either Boris Gryzlov or Oleg Morozov led those meetings, and formally all interested faction members could have been present, but not everyone would have been given the right to speak. The right to speak was usually awarded by the chairmen of the committees responsible for the bills (for example, Andrei Isayev, Martin Shakkum or Gennady Kulik), and sometimes by the lobbyists of a lower rank (in the IV Duma, for example, the Head of the Russian Union of Consumers MP, Peter Shelisch). The meetings are usually attended by representatives of the President and the Government in the Duma - Harry Minh and Andrei Loginov, of the Council of the Federation - Vice Speaker Svetlana Orlova, and the Head of Budget Committee Yevgeny Bushmin.
In the event of disagreement between the Duma and the Government, the President's representative becomes an arbiter.
On Tuesdays, the decisions of the faction's Presidium, as to the formation of the agenda, were carried out by the Council of the Duma, where United Russia had 8 votes out of 11, and the decisions on how to vote were brought to attention of the members of the faction at the meetings of four inter-faction groups.
At the same time, political initiatives coming directly from the president can hardly be denied by any UR collegiate body. For example, it is known that Yuri Luzhkov supported the idea of regional governors being elected, but when Putin introduced a bill to abolish gubernatorial elections, neither Luzhkov nor his supporters made any objections. The bill to ban guest workers from trading in markets was first introduced by Dmitry Rogozin, Alexander Babakov and Andrei Savelyev, and was regarded by the deputies of United Russia as something uncivilized or, at least, frivolous. When this initiative was made by Putin, opinions were exactly the opposite.
Several political clubs also serve as a platform for discussion for United Russia, of which the most famous are the "November 4" Political Action Club headed by the Deputies Vladimir Pligin and Andrey Makarov, and the Center for Social-Conservative Policy headed by Andrei Isaev and Yuri Shuvalov.
2005. Wings, which failed to spread
For the first time these were the wings not of United Russia, but of Duma as a whole, provoking the need for discussions in the party, said Yuri Luzhkov immediately after the 2003 elections: "As for the party, I will say bluntly: I am disappointed. I have repeatedly protested the lack of party discussions to our leader Gryzlov. I am against the fact that the party, holding a majority in the State Duma, in fact does not even discuss strategic laws. And it loses credibility, mindlessly voting for completely undeveloped solutions that cannot be implemented. Unfortunately, there is no creative work being done. Therefore, it might be a rather coarse comparison, but the current composition of the State Duma resembles a fat bird with one wing. Birds like that do not fly. And that is sad".
In April 2005, two appeals were published, one after another, within an interval of two days (on April 19 and 21) by the Duma's United Russia faction members.
The authors of the first of these complained about the deterioration of democratic freedoms and the decay of the investment environment: "Using slogans on strengthening the state and fighting against terrorism, the bureaucracy is eager to exercise total control. Unfortunately, on these and on many other urgent issues, United Russia is silent (...) We believe that the values of democracy, civil liberties and the sovereignty of the country should form the ideological basis of the United Russia Party."
On the other hand, the signatories of the second statement voiced concern that, "Today, United Russia, in supporting the Government reform policy, has notably swung to the right (...) We believe that this liberal bias is a serious political mistake and a very dangerous trend. (...) "United Russia" should not become a party of the liberal elite, but must remain the national, social party of the masses."
The liberal trend later was taken up by the "November 4" Political Action Club, whose participants included V. Pligin, A. Makarov, G. Boos, K. Kosachev, D. Zelenin, P. Krasheninnikov, Alexander Shokhin, M. Margelov, A. Khloponin, and V. Nikonov.
A social movement created the Center of Social Conservative Policy, whose organizers included the deputies Andrei Isayev, Tatyana Yakovleva, Nikolai Bulaev, and Alexei Sigutkin. Yuri Shuvalov, the head of the Duma's press service, was made the Center Coordinator.
Immediately after the publication of the two appeals, the press started talking about United Russia growing its long-awaited wings. A number of party leaders headed by Boris Gryzlov responded to this with skepticism and sometimes irritation. "We do not need wings. We're bears, we stand firmly on our feet." (Boris Gryzlov); "Bears do not fly, bears walk together." (V. Pehtin); "Where wings appear, only feathers remain of the parties." (O. Morozov); "Very few people are concerned about how many wings there are, and in what direction the party's tail is turned." (Sergei Shoigu). According to O. Morozov, during an interview with party leaders, V. Pligin and A. Isayev promised they had no intentions for factional activities within the party.
The struggle for power at all levels
The United Russia population in "Mironov's convocation" (2001 - 2011) of the Federation Council was maintained at the constant level of 105-115 persons, which is about 15-25 above the simple majority of votes.
Since autumn of 2003, after switching to proportional-majority elections for regional legislatures, United Russia won the legislative assembly elections (taking the first place in the proportional system):
- 2003 - it won 7 out of 7 regions (in two of which it got over 50%)
- 2004 - 14 out of 17 (over 50% in 3 regions);
- 2005 - 18 out of 20 (over 50% in 6);
- 2006 - 18 out of 18 (over 50% in 4);
- Spring 2007 - 14 out of 15 (over 50% in 3).
The law of December 31, 2005, allowed the party, which gained the first place in the proportional system (this almost always being United Russia), the right to propose the Governor to the President of Russia. UR can use this right even in the regions where it does not get the majority of seats in the legislature (Tyva, St. Petersburg).
In the 2007 elections, more than 70 of the 84 governors of the Russian regions were members of UR. Counting all the governors who headed UR lists for federal or regional elections or participated in the intra-party "primaries" in 2007, it turns out that only four heads of regions were not in the power party. These were billionaires Roman Abramovich and Mustafa Batdyev and communists Nikolai Vinogradov and Nikolay Maksyuta.
The party is trying to attract more municipal deputies and heads of administrations, and in some places more chairmen of territorial and precinct election commissions. In Moscow, the number of United Russia deputies among municipal deputies exceeds 2/3.
Modification of management
The V Congress of November 27, 2004, elected Boris Gryzlov as Party Chairman, putting an end to speculation as to who is more important - he or S. Shoigu.
On April 15, 2005, when asked about the possibility of the party's cooperation with the movement "Nashi" which was holding its constituent congress on the day, Valery Bogomolov, Chairman of the General Council of United Russia, said: "Stormtroopers - not on our part." Exactly a week later Bogomolov was asked to resign. On April 22, 2005, Vyacheslav Volodin was elected as Secretary of the Presidium of the General Council of UR in place of Valery Bogomolov. On April 23, 2005 the position of Chairman of CEC of the Party went from Yuri Volkov to Andrei Vorobyov, the son of the Deputy Minister of Emergency Situations, Yuri Vorobyov.
Between 2004 and 2007, the Bureau of the Supreme Council and the Presidium of the General Council grew from 4 and 5 persons respectively to 16 and 21.
2007 Election. Putin's Plan
On October 1, 2007, United Russia was the last of the 14 parties participating in the elections to hold congress primaries. Key speaker Boris Gryzlov and all four delegates (a weaver, a paraolympic champion, a businessman/social activist and a highly skilled medical doctor) in debating the report directly addressed Vladimir Putin, who was in the Presidium, and urged him either to stay for the second term, or to lead the party and its list to head the government after the 2008 elections. Putin agreed to head the list and promised to think about the premiership.
The party put forward a list of maximum length - 600 candidates. The federal part of the list consisted not of three candidates but of only one - President Vladimir Putin. The list included 192 of the 303 current United Russian deputies, the four party ministers (Alexey Gordeev, Alexander Zhukov, Yuri Trutnev, and Sergei Shoigu) and 65 governors.
As in 2003, United Russia refused to participate in live televised debates, instead only showing prerecorded videos. They advocated "Putin's Plan", with this phrase being introduced by Boris Gryzlov in spring 2007.
The party leaders explained that Putin's Plan is a set of messages which he addressed to the Federal Assembly during the last seven years. A series of brochures on "Putin's Plan" were issued by Gleb Pavlovsky's publishing house "Europe" to clarify the details of the Plan.
A matter of days before the start of the campaign - at the end of August/beginning of September 2007 - the party produced and distributed two million copies of a 12-page illustrated brochure, "Putin's Plan", which stated that the plan consists of three points: 1. Bringing order; 2. Concentration of resources; 3. Development of the country.
The election party program adopted at the Congress held on October 1 was called "Putin's Plan - a worthy future for a great country" and it explained:
"Under the "Putin Plan" for the next four years we understand the following tasks:
Further development of Russia as a unique civilization, the protection of the common cultural space of the Russian language and our historical traditions;
- Improving the competitiveness of the economy through innovative development, the support of science, infrastructural development and increased investment primarily in high technology industries, the engine of economic growth;
- Providing a new quality of life by continuing the implementation of priority national projects, and a further significant increase in wages, pensions and scholarships, with assistance to citizens in solving the housing problem;
- Support for civil society, encouraging social mobility and activity and the promotion of public initiatives;
- The strengthening of Russia's sovereignty and the country's defense, providing for its rightful place in a multipolar world."
The party's election result - 44,714,241 votes (64.30%) and 315 seats in the State Duma of the V convocation.
The Duma of the V convocation and the United Russia faction was headed by Boris Gryzlov. The faction was divided into 4 groups, which were headed by Vladimir Pekhtin, Valery Ryazansky (later - Nikolay Bulaev), Artur Chilingarov, and Tatiana Yakovleva. Of the 32 committees, the representatives of the UR led 26; each of the three opposition parties were left with 2 committees. In the Duma of the fifth convocation, the United Russia faction passed the 2009 budget together with the Liberal Democratic Party faction. In 2010, 2011 and 2012, the budgets were passed by the UR alone. The faction was extremely annoyed by the fact that none of the three opposition factions supported Prime Minister Putin's anti-crisis program of 2008, for which the UR wanted to present a consolidated position of all parties in the Duma.
In all nine regions where elections were held on December 2, 2007, the party won an absolute majority. In the Krasnodar and Penza regions it got all the majority mandates.
On December 10, 2007, the leaders of four parties - Boris Gryzlov (United Russia Party), Sergei Mironov (A Just Russia), Vladimir Plotnikov (APR) and Michael Barschevsky (Civil Force) - visited President Vladimir Putin and recommended Dmitri Medvedev as his successor as the president of Russia.
On December 17, 2007, the Party Congress officially nominated Medvedev as presidential candidate. Vladimir Putin spoke at the Congress and recommended nominating Medvedev. He also announced that he had accepted Medvedev's December 11 proposal to take the post of the Prime Minister in case that the latter were elected as president.
In the March 2, 2008, elections, Dmitry Medvedev received 52,530,712 votes (70.28%). The political party that had nominated him thus gained the right to 262,653,560 rubles of budget money in 2009. The Deputy Prime Minister's campaign headquarters were managed by Sergey Sobyanin. Medvedev refused to participate in TV debates with his three contenders (Gennady Zyuganov, Vladimir Zhirinovsky, Andrey Bogdanov).
The IX Party Congress convened in Moscow on April 14, 2008, adopted amendments to the Party Rules, which were registered by the Ministry of Justice that same evening (at 7 pm). From that moment on, Boris Gryzlov changed from being Party Chairman to becoming Chairman of its Supreme Council. Additionally, on April 15, Vladimir Putin was elected to the post of Party Chairman as of May 7, 2008 (the day of the inauguration of President Medvedev). As Party Chairman, Putin was not a member of the party.
Medvedev, who had already been elected but hadn't yet come into office, said in response to an invitation to join the party, that this was premature.
Merger with Agrarians
Of the nine parties that ceased to exist between the elections of 2007 and 2011, only one - the Agrarians - were invited to join the United Russia Party, which it did.
The Agrarian Party of Russia (APR) was established on February 26, 1993 under the guidance of both Mikhail Lapshin, the leader of the Agrarian faction at the Congress of People's Deputies of Russia, and Vasily Starodubtsev, the head of the Agrarian Union of Russia. The APR voted with the Communist Party in the Parliament on all issues, and for a year Mikhail Lapshin combined leadership of the APR with being the Deputy Chairman of the Central Executive Committee of the Communist Party. After the events of October 1993, when the Communist Party was temporarily banned, the APR was considered as a possible basis for the formation of a unified left force, but this was not necessary.
At the elections for Duma of the 1st Convocation held on December 12, 1993, the APR received 4,292,518 votes (7.99%), and the party formed a faction of 55 deputies chaired by Lapshin. At the elections for the Duma of the 2nd Convocation held on December 17, 1995, the APR refused to join Ivan Rybkin's 'center-left' Bloc and thus only managed to receive 2,613,127 votes (3.78%) due to standing on its own, therefore failing to overcome the 5-percent barrier. Twenty Agrarians elected in single-member districts along with Communists delegated on mutually agreed terms and conditions formed the Agrarian deputy group (with 35-37 members) in the Duma, which was headed by Nikolai Kharitonov, continuing the policy of alliance with the Communist Party. Lapshin returned to the Duma only in the May 1998 by-election, so becoming an ordinary member of the faction.
In May 1999, the APR split between supporters for entering the Primakov-Luzhkov bloc 'Fatherland - All Russia' (OVR: Lapshin, Gennady Kulik) and those supporting participation in the elections as part of the Communist Party list (Haritonov). As a result, sixteen APR members joined the Duma of the 3rd Convocation after the elections of December 19, 1999: nine from the list and single-member districts from IAD, five from the Communist Party, and two as independent members. With the leadership of a compromising Vladimir Plotnikov failing to reunite the group, both Lapshin and Kulik joined the OVR faction and Kharitonov took charge of the group of Agro-Industrial Deputies (35 deputies), two-thirds of whom were delegated Communists. At the presidential elections of March 2000, the APR supported the candidacy of Vladimir Putin in Congress while Haritonov and his supporters backed Zyuganov. The disengagement was finally completed in autumn of 2003, when the APR Congress entered the Duma elections with its own list headed by Lapshin (the elected head of the Altai Republic at the time) while Haritonov and his supporters entered under the CPRF's list. In the elections for the Duma of the 4th convocation held on December 7, 2003, the APR received 2,205,704 votes (3.64%), attaining two single-mandate deputies who entered the 'United Russia' faction as well as Kulik, Tkachyov, Semyonov and two more former Agrarians. Haritonov, who became a deputy for the Communist Party in March 2004, ran for the Russian Presidency as a CPRF candidate, winning second place with 9,513,313 votes (13.69%) while the APR supported Putin.
On April 27, 2004, thanks to the tactical alliance of the left and right-wing opposition, the XII Congress of the APR dismissed Mikhail Lapshin from the post of party leader, holding elections for the APR chairman which Lapshin lost to Plotnikov (185 against 226). Lapshin was not nominated by Vladimir Putin to be reassigned as head of the Altai Republic and finished his career on June 17, 2006, as Senator for the Omsk region.
Six months before the Duma elections of 2007, the new APR Chairman, Vladimir Plotnikov, left the United Russia faction on the insistence of party leadership. In the elections of December 2, 2007, the APR's list received 1,600,234 votes (2.30%) - the best result of all parties which did not overcome the 7 percent barrier.
On December 10, 2007, the APR was one of the four parties proposing that Vladimir Putin nominate Dmitry Medvedev as President in the 2008 elections.
On September 12, 2008, the leaders of the APR announced their upcoming merge with United Russia. On October 10, the XV Extraordinary Congress of the Agrarian Party of Russia decided to reorganize the APR by joining United Russia. On November 20, 2008, the corresponding decision was made by the Congress of the 'United Russia'. On January 21, 2009, the APR was excluded from the register of legal entities.
At the time of the December 2011 elections, the abolished APR held 17 seats in seven Russian regional legislative bodies, elected between 2007-2008.
2010. Luzhkov leaves the political arena
In September 2010, TV programs denouncing Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov for his patronage of his wife Elena Baturina's business began to be transmitted on the main state television channels, one after another. Luzhkov responded with articles in the press and statements in the media.
On September 27, 2010, the mayor wrote a letter to President Medvedev requesting the persecution be stopped. The next day, the president signed a decree dismissing the mayor from his post due to loss of confidence.
On the day of his resignation, Luzhkov left the United Russia Party, where he had acted as Co-Chairman of the Supreme Council since its inception.
On retiring from politics, Luzhkov became the Dean of the Major City Management Faculty of the International University in Moscow (the University Rector, Gavriil Popov, had been Luzhkov's predecessor at the post of Mayor of Moscow).
2011. Popular Front. Primaries
On May 6, 2011, at the 'United Russia' Interregional Conference in Volgograd, Vladimir Putin initiated the creation of an All-Russian Popular Front - a political union of public organizations which would be granted the right to participate in the Duma elections in 2011 as part of UR's platform. The next day, Putin met with representatives of the Federation of Independent Trade Unions of Russia, the Union of Pensioners, the Veterans Organization of the Armed Forces, 'Support of Russia' business associations, the RSPP and 'Business Russia', the 'Freedom of Choice' motorists' organization, the Russian Union of Afghanistan Veterans, and the Women's Union of Russia among others to form the Coordinating Council of the APF.
Later, labor collectives (soon joined by Russian Railways, Severstal and Russian Post groups), creative unions and international public associations were also invited to join the APF. Some associations refused to join the APF or disavowed the statements of their leaders in favor of joining the front (for example, the Union of Architects of Russia and the Society for Protection of Historical and Cultural Monuments of St. Petersburg).
The Institute for Socio-Economic and Political Studies was established for the ideological nourishment of the APF, headed by Nikolai Fyodorov, a former President of Chuvashia.
In June, the COP APF adopted the Regulation on the Procedure of the National Pre-Voting (Primaries). In place of primaries provided by the United Russia charter issued in 2009, the APF primaries were issued in June - August 2011, which in fact allowed United Russia to run a significant part of its campaign before the campaign period.
Vladimir Putin expressed the idea of the mandatory introduction of this form of primary elections for all parties, but later hanged his mind although the deputies of the 'United Russia' were already preparing a relevant bill.
The primaries were marked by several scandals, ranging from complaints by losing candidates about voting lists which were distributed to electors by their managers, to charges of direct rigging (this, for example, was denounced to the Prime Minister by Fedor Vuglikov, a member of the Prymorye primaries counting commission).
Regional elections of 2008-2011
From spring 2008 to spring 2011, 54 electoral campaigns were run, and in all regions the United Russia Party list won first place. The party took all majority mandates in 10 regions including Moscow, Further, in Kemerovo and Tambov regions, only the UR overcame the 7 percent barrier (according to the "floating barrier rule", one "consolation" mandate in each region was received by the members of A Just Russia Party).
According to the official statistics of the party, by November 2008 the UR included 74 governors, 79 speakers of the regional legislative assemblies, more than 40% of municipal deputies and almost 2/3 of the heads of municipal formations.
By the autumn of 2011, United Russia factions held more than half of the deputations in 82 of the 83 regional parliaments, and in 64 of these, they held a qualified majority of two-thirds. In four regions (Krasnoyarsk, Stavropol, Leningrad and Tula Regions), the deputies officially nominated by the UR party did not constitute a numerical majority but attained this thanks to independent single-mandate deputies who had joined the faction.
The UR faction held a minority only in St. Petersburg (with 23 deputies out of 50), where it exercised leadership by forming a bloc with a fraction of the Liberal Democratic Party and the majority of formal members of the SR faction, who broke with their own party.
In the fall of 2011, the party accounted for 2762 regional deputies, making up 69.91% of the total number of deputations.
Only two of 83 governors were linked with United Russia opponents, these being the head of Kirov region, Nikita Belykh (a former SPS Chairman, who was considering an offer to join the Right Cause Party), and the head of the Vladimir region, Nikolai Vinogradov (a member of the Communist Party who suspended his party membership in January 2008). The newspaper 'Kommersant' (10/31/2011) refers to Dmitry Mezentsev (Irkutsk region), Oleg Chirkunov (Perm region) and Razvil Geniatulin (Transbaical region) as non-party governors, while the Russian version of Wikipedia also mentions George Poltavchenko (Saint-Petersburg). Judging by their absence from United Russia lists of regional political councils, this is technically true. Geniatulin, however, could be excluded from this list, having headed the regional sub-list of the UR elections to the State Duma of the 5th convocation (December 2007) as could Chirkunov, who headed the UR list for the region's Legislative Assembly elections. Mezentsev's affiliation with the UR is also arguable, since he was included in the UR's primaries list in summer 2011, but left this of his own choice.
In November 2011, the Federation Council numbered 135 UR senators (80%), including Valentina Matviyenko, the Speaker, and her first deputy Alexander Torshin.
Since Yuri Luzhkov left the party, the Supreme Council has three Co-Chairmen - Boris Gryzlov (who is also the Chairman of the Supreme Council), Sergei Shoigu (the Minister of Emergency Situations) and Mintimer Shaimiev (the Republic of Tatarstan State Counsellor). Vladimir Putin remains a non-member Chairman of the Party.
Sergei Neverov was the Secretary of the General Council Presidium after Vyacheslav Volodin's departure for government in October 2010; he has two First Deputies - Andrey Isaev and Sergei Zheleznyak - and three alternates.
Volodin's predecessor at the post of Head of Government Staff, Sergei Sobyanin, became the Mayor of Moscow in autumn 2010, and soon headed the metropolitan branch of the United Russia Party.
In the United Russia Party, there are discussion clubs with different ideological orientations: the relatively right and Westernizing ('liberal-conservative') 'November 4' Political Action Club (Co-Chairs - Vladimir Pligin, Andrei Makarov, Valery Fadeev, oriented partly towards Vladislav Surkov, Alexei Kudrin and Anatoly Chubais, in 2008-2009 - as well as to President Medvedev); the relatively leftist Center of Social Conservative Politics (the leaders: Andrei Isaev and Yuri Shuvalov; CSCP is close to Boris Gryzlov); and the State-Patriotic Club (represented by Irina Yarovaya and Maxim Mishchenko; oriented to the anti-Western wing of the executive authorities). In the second half of March 2010, the creation of a fourth - 'liberal' club for 'modernization' supporters was announced; organizers - Alexey Chesnakov, Andrew Ilnitsky and the sociologist Olga Kryshtanovskaya; official platform - liberal ideology with no conservative components, support for 'modernization' and 'tandem' policies; unofficially - strict adherence to Surkov's course).
In the State Duma, the supporters of the four clubs vote the same way.
In the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, the deputies from the 3rd Duma 'Unity' faction (like their predecessors - the deputies of the NDR faction of the 2nd Duma) formed part of the European People's Party (Christian Democrats) group and those from the 'Fatherland' faction were in the Socialist group. United Russia Senators, headed by Mikhail Margelov, were in the European Democratic Group (conservatives) in 2000 - 2003.
After the 2003 elections, all United Russia deputies were members of the EDG, where they made up more than a quarter of the group (the other big delegations were the British Conservative Party, the Polish 'Order and Justice' Party, half of the delegation of the Turkish Justice and Development Party and some delegates of the Italian People of Freedom Party). Mikhail Margelov headed the EDG from January 2005 to January 2009. In January 2008, he was due to become the Chairman of the PACE, prompting the Assembly to revise the order of rotation of the political group representatives to this post to avoid this.
In June 2008, United Russia was admitted as a candidate for the Centrist Democrat International (until 2001, named the Christian Democratic International). This International consisted of more than 100 parties, including the Union for a Popular Movement from France, the CDU from Germany, the People's Party from Spain, 'New Democracy' from Greece, and UNITA form Angola. Candidate status is the third level of the hierarchy following full members and observers (the UR is the only party in the world that has said status).
According to the agreement between the Prime Minister and the President, the United Russia Party list for the 2011 elections, nominated by the XII Party Congress on September 24, 2011, was headed by Dmitry Medvedev, who became the only candidate on the federal part of the list. At the same time, the two leaders announced that after the presidential elections they were going to swap their positions. In total, there were 600 candidates nominated - the maximum allowed by law (at the time of registration this was 597).
The list contained 165 United Russia Party deputies (a little over half of the faction in the 5th Duma, consisting of 315 people), 5 deputies from the Fair Russia faction (Alexander Babakov, Glubokovskaya, Kasyanov, Starshinov, and Shestakov), Vtorygina, a former deputy of the faction, Bagaryakov, a former deputy from the Communist Party, and Kolesnikov, a deputy from the Liberal Democratic Party. There were 54 current governors on the list (65 in the previous elections), 9 regional speakers, 11 mayors of regional administrative centers, 6 deputy prime ministers, the ministers Sergei Shoigu and Yury Trutnev, and the Head of Presidential Administration, Sergei Naryshkin.
Vladimir Dolgikh (born in 1924), the Chairman of the Moscow Council of Veterans and CPSU Secretary of the Brezhnev era, was also on the list, and, being the oldest deputy, he went on to open the 6th Duma.
For the first time since its creation, the party participated in federal TV debates, where it was mostly represented by Alexander Hinstein. Opponents repeatedly cited words he had said during debates against Vladimir Zhirinovsky: "It's better to belong to the party of crooks and thieves than be the part of the party of rapists and murderers."
According to official data, the party's result in the elections was 49.32% and 238 seats in the State Duma.
Former Speaker of the Duma Boris Gryzlov refused the deputy mandate, and Sergei Naryshkin was elected as a Chairman of the 6th Duma. Of the 29 committees of the 6th Duma, the UR headed 15 by simple majority, while receiving five of the eight posts for Vice-Speakers (including one of the two First Deputies), also securing Council of Duma seats for all deputies as well as the two faction leaders (a total together with the Speaker and the leader of the faction of eight seats against six from the opposition). Inner faction groups were headed by Otari Arshba, Nicholay Bulaev, Dmitry Savelyev and Vyacheslav Timchenko.
The party put forward lists for the regional elections of December 4, 2011 in all 27 regions, where it ranked first in all regions according to the proportional system, although in two of these it did not attain an absolute majority of seats. These were St. Petersburg (the only region without a United Russia majority until December 2011) and Karelia.
In the second phase of the party's XII Congress held on November 27, 2011, Vladimir Putin was nominated as presidential candidate.
On October 7, 2011, Sergei Mironov, the leader of the Fair Russia Party, published a copy of an internal document from the St. Petersburg United Russia headquarters on his blog which described in detail the falsification of precinct election commission protocols and ballot box stuffing instructions used in the 2008 election.
On November 23, 2011, Gazeta.ru published an article featuring the script of a non-public statement by Alexander Aksenov, the Chief of Council of the Moscow district 'Falcon Mountain', giving a detailed explanation of how the plan to collect votes for the ruling party should be carried out, with demands that business managers collect absentee certificates from their employees and to give these to the officials so that United Russia could gain 58% at the Moscow elections (despite the fact that according to the survey by Public Opinion Fund conducted at the start of the campaign and published on Gazeta.ru United Russia's rating in Moscow was 29%). According to RIA Novosti, Mosgorizbirkom said that the information stated in the article was 'unreasonable', and cast doubt on the authenticity of the audio recording.
On December 21, 2011, Vladimir Semago, a member of the United Russia regional political council, made a statement in 'Novaya Gazeta' in the article, "This is not falsification of the election results, it is a conspiracy to retain the power by force" in which he stated that the group of conspirators created a criminal community to falsify parliamentary elections with the aim of retaining power.
Scientists from the Medical University of Vienna proposed a method of assessing the presence of fraud in the election. As a result, they were able to prove that the elections for the Russian President in 2012 and for the State Duma in 2011 were rigged. In particular can be mentioned the so-called ballot-box stuffing for some candidates. The article written by these scientists appeared in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences Journal and is in the public domain.
2012 - 2016
At the XIII Congress of the Party, which took place on May 26, 2012, Dmitry Medvedev was elected the Chairman of the United Russia Party.
In March 2013, about 50 members of the United Russia Party from the Abansky District of Krasnoyarsk Territory announced their withdrawal from the party. They sent an open letter (signed by 60 people) to the chairman of the party, Dmitry Medvedev, in which they criticized the activities of the United Russia Party, which, according to them, had ceased to carry out its political function.
Moscow hosted the XIV Congress of the United Russia Party on October 5, 2013.
The United Russia Party held its XV Party Congress in Moscow on February 5-6, 2016. Its main issue was the approval of the procedure for conducting primary voting to select candidates for election to the State Duma of the seventh convocation. On May 22, 2016, the United Russia Party held national party elections (primaries) - officially, this was to select party candidates for the State Duma elections. However, the victory of a person in these primaries did not necessarily mean that the winner would become a United Russia candidate in the State Duma elections. The party leadership excluded a number of winners from the lists (often with odd pretexts), and their places on the party list were given to individuals who had shown very poor results in the voting on May 22, 2016. For example, in the final regional party list for the Sverdlovsk region, the 2nd and 3rd places went to the participants who won 9th and 10th places in the primaries. In a similar way, some winners of primaries for single-member districts were replaced. For example, a person who ranked only forth according to regional voting results was appointed the party candidate from the Nizhnyi Tagil region.
On August 27, 2012, deputies Dmitry Gudkov and Ilya Ponomarev published a post titled "Golden Pretzels of United Russia" on LiveJournal where they began to publish data from open sources on State Duma deputies and United Russia Party members, who, according to Gudkov and Ponomaryov, though being Members of Parliament were not only involved in company share capital, but also directly managed their assets. The Secretary-General of the Council, Sergei Neverov on behalf of the United Russia Council called the publication 'ordinary PR'.
The information continued to be published after this.
In April 2013, in the course of a poll conducted by the Levada Center, the majority of Russians (51%) agreed that the United Russia Party is 'a party of crooks and thieves.'
In 2014, financing of political parties from the federal budget was increased sharply in Russia - now for every vote obtained in the elections, the party began to receive not 50, but 110 rubles. As a result, where in 2014 the United Russia Party received 1.7 billion rubles from the federal budget, in 2015 it received over 3.5 billion rubles. In total, for 2015 the party received from all sources 5.187 billion rubles.
During the time the United Russia Party was in power, the Corruption Perception Index increased by 4%: in 2001 this amounted to 2.3 (81st place on the list of 91 countries where the higher the index, the lower the level of corruption) while in 2011 it was 2.4 (143rd place on the list of 182 countries). In 2012, the methodology for calculating the index changed, giving Russia a score of 28 (133rd in the list of 174 countries).