December 18, 2018

The People Vs. the President: United Russia’s Survival Strategy

By Tatiana Stanovaya for Carnegie Moscow CenterThe United Russia ruling party’s annual congress on December 7 and 8 was eagerly anticipated by observers: the party needed to showcase its survival strategies amid falling ratings and growing social discontent. A lot of attention was on United Russia’s future and Russian President Vladimir Putin’s role in it, given the rumors that the Kremlin is considering creating new political parties and even possibly eliminating United Russia…

Many expected Volodin’s people to be replaced by Kiriyenko appointees on the eve of the congress. This didn’t really happen, since Kiriyenko prefers gradual change and avoids head-on collisions. He has opted for molding current party bureaucrats to fit his needs, rather than replacing them with someone new.

Such caution is more of an attempt to conform to Putin’s expectations rather than a rational choice. The president prizes results over everything else, hence the emphasis on technocrats, depoliticization, corporate approaches, and KPIs.

All this also reflects on the choice of personnel: unlike many other politicians, Kiriyenko doesn’t promote his own people, but rather the mechanisms for mass-producing neutral, faceless, easily replaceable political functionaries.

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