Putin’s spokesman says PM will lead, not join People’s Front

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin does not need to become a member of the All-Russia People’s Front because he is its leader, his spokesman said on Thursday.

“Vladimir Putin need not join the People’s Front because he leads it,” Dmitry Peskov said when asked if the prime minister would complete the online registration. “He does not need to fill out this form, because as the author of the ideas he is exempt from this formality.”

Putin announced the creation of the All-Russia People’s Front in early May, saying it would broaden his ruling United Russia party’s electoral base with “non-party people,” including trade unions, NGOs, business associations and youth groups.

Peskov’s comments suggest Putin’s role in the front is directly comparable to his position in United Russia, which he also leads without having formally become a member.

Some analysts see Putin’s project as a bid to shore up his electoral base in the face of United Russia’s flagging popularity, thus heading off a potentially damaging poor showing in the December elections to the State Duma, the lower house of parliament.

Online registration for the People’s Front has been available on the prime minister’s official website since Tuesday. The form contains 11 points, including name, gender, social status, education, home address, email and telephone number.

Any person or organization can join if they share the views of United Russia. Peskov has said members will not get membership cards but will have access to the ruling party’s electoral resources.

According to Putin, United Russia should not only choose party members as candidates for the Duma elections, but also independents and supporters of United Russia. The party promised People’s Front activists 150 of 600 seats in its electoral list.

The head of United Russia’s election commission said on Wednesday it was likely that Putin would head its list of candidates; however, as the serving prime minister, he will not actually be standing for election as a member of parliament.

“Putin has always been present in the most critical, most difficult, most important moments of our lives and he has always played a defining role,” election commission head Andrei Vorobyov said.

The lists of candidates for each party taking part in the election will be submitted in September.

MOSCOW, June 9 (RIA Novosti)

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