United Russia, a party led by Vladimir Putin until recently, will kick off its two-day conference today. The party, which currently holds three-quarters of the seats in Russia’s lower house, will focus mostly on administrative issues but could address allegations of pervasive corruption.
Derided as the “party of crooks and thieves” by its critics, United Russia has been plagued by corruption scandals that have seen its approval rating drop to 42%—a stark contrast to President Vladimir Putin’s 81%.
In response to this, Mr Putin last week announced his intention to stand for next year’s presidential election as an independent, thus breaking with United Russia for the first time since the party was formed in 2001. While the party is likely to support Putin despite the split, it could see its popularity wane further without the popular strongman as its leader.
By standing alone and with victory in March’s elections all but guaranteed, however, Putin is further demonstrating his stronghold on power in Russia and cementing himself as a leader far beyond ordinary politics.
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Alex is a senior analyst in the Current Developments team with a primary focus on the Americas. He also serves as an editor on The Daily Brief.