“United Russia is not a party of thieves”

United Russia leaders take attacks on party as a personal insult.

Slanderous attacks against the ruling United Russia party are personally insulting, according to senior United Russia official Oleg Morozov. They are not reflective of the party or the majority of its party members, he believes.

“Only our enemies call United Russia ‘a party of cheaters and thieves,’” Morozov, the first deputy speaker of the State Duma, said on Friday. Political rivals and enemies of the party use these words to discredit United Russia, the politician told Moskovsky Komsomolets daily. “When I heard about ‘the party of cheaters and thieves’, I was personally insulted by those boorish words as well,” he said. “But I’m an honest and decent man, I don’t take bribes. And I can say the same about the absolute majority of my colleagues who honestly serve our country.”

This wording – “the party of thieves and crooks” is attributed to a prominent blogger and whistleblower Aleksey Navalny, and many party members want to fight back.

This week Morozov, who is also a member of the bureau of United Russia’s supreme council, said he was not behind a suit filed against Navalny in a Moscow court. According to Morozov, he will ask the police to investigate who had signed the fraudulent lawsuit under his name.

The blogger had earlier posted a video allegedly showing Morozov using a State Duma car for personal purposes. But the politician denies he ever had plans to file a libel sue against Navalny. Morozov’s unnamed aides went even further when they told Kommersant daily that the signature was forged, and they thought “Navalny himself could have organized it, hiring a firm in St. Petersburg.”

At the same time, Morozov described the false suit as “a political provocation on the eve of the State Duma elections.” The parliamentary poll is scheduled for December.

As the ruling party is revving up for elections under a broader coalition called the Popular Front, some believe United Russia’s image may have been tarnished. But Morozov explains that that the party has been campaigning both for its own candidates, and representatives of the front, created on Prime Minister Vladimir Putin’s initiative.

Every party in the run-up to elections finds techniques that would allow it to show the best result, Morozov said. The Popular Front is an election project, and there is nothing bad about it, he said.

And in the end Morozov believes, elections are the only real barometer of support. With a two thirds majority in the Duma and total domination of the regional legislative bodies, it is obvious the ruling party still enjoys broad public support. And while their approval ratings have dropped somewhat since January, a poll conducted by Public Opinion Foundation (FOM) on August 13-14 showed that the number of people who are ready to vote for United Russia stands at 43 per cent.

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