Even Hospitals Contribute to United Russia

June 4, 2013

[According to the Central Election Commission data for 2012, the ruling United Russia party is the Russia’s wealthiest political party: its earnings amounted to 3.9 billion roubles ($122 million), most of which were received from the state budget. The emptiest coffers were those of RPR-PARNAS, that will have to finance its election campaign not from own account, but with the assistance from special fund, Kommersant reports—Ed.]

The political parties’ financial statements for 2012 were published by the Central Electoral Commission (CEC). As usual, United Russia topped the list: its receipts amounted to 3.9 billion roubles ($122 million), including 2.6 billion ($81 billion) of budgetary transfers (by law, a party that clears the “3 per cent barrier” is eligible for federal funding). The donations amounted to little over 1 billion roubles ($31 million), of which 964 million ($30 million) was received from legal entities and 21 million from individuals ($660,000). Among the largest donors was Mytischi Oil Depot, LLC. That company transferred 50 million roubles ($1.5 million) to the United Russia account, 6.7 million ($210,000) of which had to be returned, because, according to the Law on Political Parties, legal entities are not allowed to donate more than 43.3 million roubles ($1.3 million). A little more than 1 million roubles ($31,000) was received from Sberbank. Even the Mordovia Regional Hospital No. 5 made an attempt to donate 2,000 roubles ($62), but the money was returned, because public and municipal organizations are not allowed to donate to political parties.

The majority of party sponsors are the regional support funds supporting United Russia. They are not obligated to disclose their sources of revenue. “An entrepreneur is given an option to become friends with the government and to contribute some money to the fund. If he does, he gets special treatment; if he doesn’t, he also gets special treatment, but of a different kind,” explained Sergei Polyakov, Editor of Political Technologies magazine.

As for United Russia’s expenditures, the biggest item was the governing bodies. To maintain them, the party spent 463 million roubles ($14 million). In the local and regional elections held on October 14, 2012 in 77 regions, the party spent 183 million roubles ($5.7 million). The smallest item in their expenditures was charitable giving, at 46 thousand roubles ($1,400).

The second highest spender was the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia (LDPR). The LDPR’s revenues amounted to 695 million roubles ($21 million), of which 477 million ($15 million) was received from the federal budget. The party has fewer donors than United Russia; however, some of them are more generous than the majority of the ruling party’s sponsors. For example, Gefest, LLC, and Lesprom E, LLC each donated 43 million roubles ($1.3 million). Techtorgroup, LLC, Klen Trading Co., and Garant-Invest invested 30 million ($940,000) apiece. Most of the money was spent on elections – 250 million roubles ($7.8 million). The LDPR spent less on its governing parties than United Russia— only 2.3 million ($72,000).

The Just Russia party received 674 million roubles ($21 million) (including 494 million ($15 million) from the federal budget). 171 million ($5.3 million). was contributed by the donors, the largest of which was ZhBK-1, LLC (11.6 million ($360,000), and the Chelyabinsk Forge & Press Factory, LLC (9 million ($280,000). The Rolf Urals company, founded by Sergei Petrov, a Duma deputy from the Just Russia party, contributed 1.6 million ($50,000). Party expenditures were quite modest: 124 million roubles ($3.8 million) for governing bodies, and 136 million roubles ($4.2 million) for elections.

The Right Cause party, which didn’t manage to win any seats in any of the regional parliaments, received 26.3 million roubles ($820,000). Most of these funds were contributed by donors (25.6 million roubles ($800,000), including the Joint Committee on European Security and Cooperation, the Volgograzhdanproekt Institute, and Denas I, LLC. Right Cause received individual donations amounting to 4.9 million roubles ($150,000), 50 thousand ($1,500) of which came from Boris Nadezhdin, who, until late 2011 was a member of the Party’s Federal Political Council.

RPR-PARNAS (which registered with the Ministry of Justice in August 2012) submitted a zero balance to the CEC. As the party Co-Chairman Vladimir Ryzhkov explained, RPR-PARNAS doesn’t spend money on unnecessary things— even on accounting. “We were registered less than a year ago, and haven’t even opened accounts in most regions. So far, we have nothing to account for.” However, according to Ryzhkov, despite its balance of zero the party will still participate in the regional elections on September 8, because by law, the electoral campaign is financed from election funds, not from the party’s accounts.

Other parties, including the Communist Party of the Russian Federation (CPRF), Yabloko, and the Patriots of Russia were also supposed to submit their statements, but so far the CEC website hasn’t published that information. Olga Kibis, the CPRF Chief Accountant, stated that “the party submitted its financial statement to the CEC in a timely manner, and a copy was sent to the Ministry of Justice.” Sergei Ivanenko, the new Financial Officer for Yabloko, and Nadezhda Korneeva, the Deputy Chairperson of the Patriots of Russia, blamed “red tape” for the absence of their financial statements on the CEC website. The CEC refused to comment.

Political analyst Evgeni Minchenko believes that political contributions should be made solely on an individual basis. He argued that, if money is contributed by legal entities, “There is a high probability of abuse,” and suggested that, in order to prevent such abuse, “parties and legal entities must be required to enter into open agreements, stating terms and conditions as well as the purposes of such funding.”