The Russian social networks Vkontakte and Odnoklassniki have rejected new advertisements from United Russia, where it claims to be “the president’s party.” A source in one of the political party’s regional offices told the website Znak.com that Mail.ru Group, which owns both networks, is demanding documentation that President Putin supports United Russia, though there’s no law requiring such evidence. “They insist on their right to reject any promotional materials. For Mail.ru, the silent agreements reached inside the president’s administration aren’t an executive order,” the source said.
Why is United Russia only now positioning itself as Putin’s party?
It’s no mystery that United Russia is Vladimir Putin’s primary vehicle for legislative politics. The president has always maintained some distance from the party, however, posing as a leader “above partisanship.” As the group that single-handedly pushed through the first draft of unpopular reforms that will raise the retirement age, however, United Russia is in need of a serious endorsement.
Earlier this month, the magazine RBC reported that the Kremlin finally agreed to let the party advertise Putin’s support ahead of September 9 elections in Irkutsk, Vladimir, and Yekaterinburg — all places where United Russia’s popularity with voters has plummeted recently. Putin’s administration is reportedly considering similar assistance in Arkhangelsk and Ulyanovsk.