Staunton, July 28 – That United Russia should hew closely to the Kremlin’s line on Putin’s war in Ukraine is no surprise. It has promoted whatever he wants. But that it should be so tightly intertwined administratively with that conflict is and raises questions about the relations among the party itself, the Duma leadership and the Presidential Administration.
Meduza commentator Andrey Pertsev describes what has happened to United Russia since February 24th and how this has affected its relationship with Duma Speaker Vyacheslav Volodin and with Kremlin officials (meduza.io/feature/2022/07/28/kak-edinaya-rossiya-prevratilas-iz-partii-vlasti-v-partiyu-voyny-i-kakuyu-rol-v-etom-sygrali-smotryaschie-ot-kremlya).
“Already at the very beginning of the war,” Pertsev writes, “Andrey Turchak, the secretary general of United Russia understood that Vladimir Putin would be involved with ‘the military-Donbass theme’ for a long time and began to search for a niche there for the party and for himself.”
He found it for both in two places, “’ultra-patriotic’ rhetoric” and actions linking the party with the military’s moves in Ukraine including visits to the front and the involvement of party officials in providing humanitarian assistance to regions of Ukraine that Russian forces have taken under control.
These visits and this involvement in assistance infuriated Volodin who denounced such moves as incompatible with Duma membership; but Turkchak, obviously with support from the Kremlin, refused to back down and he and his party have continued them, moves that involve United Russia far more intimately in state administration than before.
According to Pertsev, the Presidential Administration is prepared to support United Russia in this now; but the PA is divided as far as what needs to be done to win back support for the erstwhile party of power and so may shift gears on this depending on how the war proceeds and how Russians view United Russia’s involvement there.