ROSTOV-ON-DON, March 29 (RIA Novosti) – President Vladimir Putin on Friday headed an early morning conference of his newly revived All-Russia People’s Front (ONF), urging its members to fulfill its “grand mission” and create a broad platform for discussion of the country’s most pressing issues.
“The ONF must gain the status of a public movement,” Putin told hundreds of members of the organization, which he created in May 2011 but has only now turned his full attention to.
“We have worked out an intense, but realistic timetable for the modernization of the main aspects of our lives, and the main aspects of our economic development,” Putin said at the meeting in south Russia’s Rostov-on-Don.
He also proposed holding the movement’s founding congress in June, “on the 11th or the 12th.”
Putin’s renewed interest in the ONF, whose name echoes Soviet-era movements, has led to speculation that the Kremlin is seeking to create a new “party of power” to replace the ruling United Russia party, which has been hit by a number of corruption scandals in recent months.
Putin said in 2011 that he wanted the ONF to act as an umbrella movement for members of trade unions, NGOs, business associations and youth groups. However, the movement’s exact function and status have remained unclear.