Rule of law for ruling party? United Russia suspected of misusing state funds

The Russian Accounts Chamber will check whether cash used for organizing United Russia party primaries was illegally received.

The request was filed by the Communist Party, United Russia’s main adversary in the upcoming Duma elections.

The doubts about the party’s adhering to the law were triggered by a leak let out by the head of United Russia’s executive committee. The official said that the party’s primaries were financed from the support funds of the ruling party, which can collect money from anywhere, including municipal and foreign organizations, which is strictly prohibited. According to Russian law, the primaries can be financed from the party’s own funds only.

Outraged by such a distinct violation of the law, the Communists filed a range of complaints to the Central Election Commission, the Ministry of Justice, and the Prosecutor’s Office, but all the three organizations refused to look into the complaints. Only the Accounts Chamber agreed to examine in detail the sources where the money for United Russia’s primaries came from.

Communist Party representatives say there is evidence available that some municipal organizations transferred funds to the accounts of United Russia in the Tver region.

“If this information is confirmed, United Russia will find itself in the middle of a huge scandal,” said Vadim Soloviev, head of the Communist Party’s legal service. “These support funds may be a clever scheme to get around the ban on drawing funds from state and municipal organizations. If any opposition party tried something of the kind, it would have been immediately blocked.”

United Russia members deny breaking any laws.

“Primaries are not regulated by Russian law and do not have any connection with electioneering,” head of the United Russia executive committee, Andrey Vorobiev, told RIA-Novosti. “United Russia’s support fund was founded 11 years ago. Since then, it has never used any money from the country’s budget. All the money that ends up in the fund is from voluntary contributions.”

United Russia deputy, Dr Dmitry Polikanov, told RT that the Communists are trying to self-promote using accusations against United Russia.

“This is nothing but the personal PR of the Communist Party,” Polikanov said. “The topic of primaries is the major event of this summer. Opposition parties want to take this chance to popularize themselves.”

Meanwhile, Russia’s prime minister, Vladimir Putin, has suggested amending the law to make primary elections compulsory for all political parties.

“I would like to ask you to consider and discuss with your colleagues from other political parties ways of making such preliminary elections a legally binding norm,” Putin said at a meeting of the Coordination Council of the All-Russia Popular Front, reports Ria-Novosti.

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