Late last week, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin came out of nowhere to announce he had created the All-Russia People’s Front, a nebulous political idea that reminded some more of a scene from Monty Python’s Life of Brian than a move of any significance. The “front,” announced notably during the Victory Day holiday weekend, would unite “political and social forces” as Russia readies for parliamentary and presidential elections.
Today, we got the first glimmer of what the People’s Front might do.
“Of course the People's Front can nominate and serve as a basis for the future candidate for the post of the Russian president in 2012,” said Sergei Neverov, a top official from the ruling United Russia party, according to AFP.
With United Russia’s popularity steadily dipping amid increasing corruption and a stagnant economy, maybe Putin needs a new outlet to support him should he announce he’s running for president in March 2012? Many expect President Dmitry Medvedev will give a hint as to whether he plans to run on May 18, when he will hold his first major press conference ever.
Neverov explained the People’s Front idea further: “But the first step is the elections in the Russian State Duma,” he said, referring to the parliamentary vote scheduled for the end of this year. “If there is a broad coalition, if the People's Front demonstrates good results then it will become the foundation for the future candidate for the post of the Russian president.”
Some observers said the announcement of the People’s Front pointed to signs of a split between Putin and Medvedev. Sounds to me like they’re just looking to rename United Russia. Russians love a good re-branding.
Meeting with the People’s Front on Thursday, Putin sought to calm fears over a split. “Dmitry Anatolievich Medvedev and I discussed this in a rather detailed way,” he said, according to NewsRu. “We discussed all these questions. He supports what we’re doing.”