Russian Popular Front to control development of housing, public utilities sphere

MOSCOW, September 6 (Itar-Tass) —— A nonprofit partnership, Razvitiye (Development), will be formed under the aegis of the Russian Popular Front to foster the development of housing and public utilities, Regional Development Minister Viktor Basargin said on Tuesday.

He said the partnership would be made up of experts, lawyers, auditors, technicians and heads of regional and municipal authorities.

“The new organization may become a national floor for the discussion of problems in the housing and public utilities sector, make the management of housing and public utilities transparent and create equal conditions for all companies operating in that sector,” he said.

Public utility companies are operating in more than 100,000 towns and cities across the country, but the competition is not fair, the minister said. The unfair competition leads to the inferior services, which cost too much. The authorities are sometimes incapable of current monitoring of the sector. “This means the role of public organizations must grow. The establishment of the Development nonprofit partnership would be timely and necessary,” he said.

Seven public organizations, which are affiliated to the Russian Popular Front, will become the founders of the partnership: the OPORA inter-regional association of small and medium business, the All Homes public organization in support of the housing and public utilities reform, the Russian Council of Local Self-Government, the Russian Union of Public Utility Workers, the Russian Water Resources Society, the National Housing Congress and the Union of Russian Cities.

The partnership board will be elected at a general meeting for the period of two years. Federation Council Vice-Speaker Svetlana Orlova and some other public representatives will become members of the board presidium.

Attention to the housing and public utilities sector is a part of the election program of United Russia and the Russian Popular Front.

This program is practically ready, Acting Secretary of the Presidium of the United Russia General Council Sergei Neverov said on August 26.

At the same time, the program is too large and needs to be reduced, he said. “An abridged version of the program will be presented at the United Russia congress,” he said, noting that the party must publish the program in the newspaper Rossiyskaya Gazeta. “It is simply impossible to publish the whole program there,” he said.

Member of the Popular Front’s Federal Coordinating Council, head of the Automobilists Union Vyacheslav Lysakov said that the Institute for Social, Economic and Political Studies, which was forming the program, was still receiving plenty of proposals divided into federal and regional blocks. The federal program will be supplemented with a regional section, which will spell out problems of particular regions, he said.

“The framework version of the program will be drafted for the congress, and it will be upgraded and supplemented with new provisions later on,” Lysakov said.

A total of 320 representatives of public organizations, among them 149 non-party members, have won the primaries of United Russia and the Russian Popular Front, Neverov said. In his words, 46 non-party winners were self-nominated candidates.

“The goal set by party leader Vladimir Putin has been achieved,” Neverov said, recalling that 150 out of 600 candidates of the United Russia party in the State Duma election would be representatives of the Popular Front.

Neverov did not rule out the same correlation of party and non-party deputies in the future faction of United Russia. He said the party did not fear a breach of its monolith position. “Debates inside the faction will be welcome. The faction has four groups today. Debates are rather serious, they even become fierce sometimes, and every group has an opinion of its own. The main task is to find a solution acceptable for all. This policy helps resolve problems exposed by common effort and requiring accord,” he said.

Putin lauded the outcome of the Russian Popular Front primaries at a meeting of the Front Coordinating Council a week before.

“I propose to form a candidates pool of the Russian Popular Front on results of these primaries,” he said.

Putin proposed to engage the candidates in the upcoming regional and municipal elections and in the formation of executive authorities.

He welcomed the activeness of primaries participants. “The number of candidates grew by almost thrice since 2007. More than 60% of candidates were nominated by public organizations or candidates themselves. A total of 220,000 electors made their choice, and half of the electors represented public organizations,” he said.

United Russia postponed its congress until September 23-24 due to the primaries and the need to approve final lists of candidates for the State Duma. The congress was initially planned for September 3-4.

“The primaries are very active; we have extended them until August 25, and a number of formalities will have to be complied with later on,” Chairman of the United Russia Supreme Council, State Duma Speaker Boris Gryzlov said. “Regional coordinating councils will sum up results when the primaries end. It will take a week to process the data, and it will be the beginning of September by then. It will take some time to hold regional conferences, and the party and the Supreme Council Bureau will do their work after that,” he said.

The primaries began on July 21. Neverov called the primaries unprecedented by the range of social and professional groups they involved. “This is a truly people’ s project,” he said, adding that over 4,700 people would take part in the primaries nationwide.

The Russian Popular Front formed at Putin’s initiative joined the nomination of candidates. More than 2,000 public organizations – Front members proposed their candidates for parliament. Fifty-eight percent of all candidates are nominees of public organizations, 6% are self-nominated candidates and 36% of nominees of United Russia.

“We hope that the final list of 600 candidates will have many new names on it, and the party will renovate,” Neverov said. The list approved at the party congress “will have no less than 150 new efficient candidates,” he said.

The primaries took place at 836 locations where candidates presented their viewpoints and programs.

Putin suggested forming the Front at a regional conference of the United Russia Party in Volgograd on May 6.

He called for forming ‘a broad popular front’ to unite various political forces before the elections.

Putin said the new organization would create a common floor for United Russia, other political parties, trade unions, organizations of women and veterans, including those of WW2 and the Afghan War, all people wishing to strengthen this country.

The front may pave the way to the State Duma for United Russia supporters unaffiliated to any parties. “All the political organizations must be equal within this Front – United Russia, trade unions and youth organizations. Everyone must be equal. There must be no seniors and juniors. Everyone must have a chance to propose the optimal development of Russia and to nominate candidates, who may be non-party members but be elected to the State Duma on the United Russia ticket,” he said.

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