Putin hopes ruling party dominates parliament after vote | World news
By DARIA LITVINOVA, Associated Press
MOSCOW (AP) – Russian President Vladimir Putin on Sunday expressed hope that the Kremlin’s United Russia Party would maintain its dominance in parliament after the country’s parliamentary elections in September.
The September 19 vote is widely seen as an important part of Putin’s efforts to cement his reign ahead of the next presidential election in 2024. The 68-year-old Russian leader, who has been in power for more than two decades, has pushed through reform Constitution of last year that would potentially allow him to retain power until 2036.
As elections approach, Russian opposition supporters, independent media and human rights activists face increased pressure from the government, attributed by many to the Kremlin’s desire to ensure that a united Russia maintains its positions dominant in parliament.
Putin met with senior United Russia officials on Sunday and said he “relies heavily” on the party to “retain its positions” after the elections and “will be able to take the necessary decisions in the country’s interest at the level. legislative. “
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The United Russia faction currently holds 334 out of 450 parliamentary seats. However, polls by leading independent Russian pollster Levada Center show that only 27% of Russians are ready to vote for the party this year.
During the meeting, Putin also announced one-time payments of around $ 135 and $ 200 to Russian retirees and military personnel.
Leonid Volkov, main ally of the imprisoned opposition leader Alexei Navalny, denounced the decision as “open corruption of voters”.
Navalny’s team have come under intense repression in recent months. While the corruption fighter himself is serving a 2.5-year prison sentence, his Anti-Corruption Foundation and a network of regional offices have been outlawed as extremist organizations. The designation barred those associated with the groups from running for public office and exposed them to long prison terms.
Some of Navalny’s main associates had planned to run in the parliamentary elections. The politician’s team also pledged to roll out its smart voting strategy in elections – a project designed to promote candidates most likely to defeat those of the dominant United Russia party.
The government also declared a number of independent media and journalists “foreign agents” – a label that involves additional government control and carries strong pejorative overtones that could discredit the recipients – and raided the homes of several prominent journalists.
Several media and human rights groups have gone out of business after being accused of links to “undesirable” organizations – a designation that bans a group and exposes its members, supporters and partners to prosecution.
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