“United Russia” is Losing Sponsors

August 22, 2013
Фото: Алексей Никольский / РИА Новости

The Central Election Commission (CEC) published data on financial flows to the accounts of political parties for the second quarter of 2013. It turned out that the largest party in the country [United Russia – Ed.] is rapidly losing sponsors. Now it takes only the fifth place in the list in terms of monetary contributions from individuals and companies. Based on the party reporting, it is financed mostly by the state, unlike the LDPR and the CPRF.

It is easy to trace how investor confidence in the ruling party kept falling. Compared to the fourth quarter of 2012, when in addition to budgetary support, United Russia received 129 million roubles of financial donations, in the first quarter of this year, the party received only 33 million roubles, and in April, May and June just 10 million roubles.

For comparison, in the last three months the LDPR has received from sponsors 520 million roubles, and “Civic Platform” got 180 million. Even “Patriots of Russia,” not represented in the parliament, managed to collect more than United Russia, 28 million roubles. The Chairman of the Patriots of Russia Executive Committee, Nadezhda Korneeva, explained to Slon that unlike United Russia, they don’t receive funding from the budget and in order to support their candidates in the elections they had to ask various companies and businesses for financial assistance, calling potential donors on the phone.

However, the ruling party does not admit having any problems. As Dmitry Travkin, the head of the United Russia Central Executive Committee explained to Slon, the reduction in the financial flows from legal entities and individuals to the party coffers is most likely due to the fact that the party receives enough money from the state budget to operate. “We haven’t had any complaints. Apparently we are just not pitching for donations. After all, the party has been around for 13 years, and is sufficiently strong,” said Travkin. Now the party receives from the state budget 1.707 billion roubles a year. That is 50 rubles for each vote cast for United Russia in the elections to the State Duma. The total balance of the party’s accounts is 2.5 billion roubles. In this regard United Russia is still the richest party in parliament. The CPRF, for example, has 983 million roubles in its bank accounts.

Nevertheless, the political analysts consider this reduction in the size of private financing an alarming sign. “Perhaps this has something to do with serious staff changes within the party. For example, instead of Andrei Vorobyov, some Travkin took charge of the Central Executive Committee, and Medvedev replaced Putin as the party leader. As a result, due to lower political clout of the party leadership the overall political weight of United Russia has come down, while the major political investors have become less interested in the party. In addition, when it comes to the mandates in the regions, it is easier to solve the problem on the spot or with the presidential administration. Therefore, no one feels grateful to the party for a mandate received or a position, and no one feels obligated [to give].

“The decision-making center is already outside,” believes Konstantin Kalachev, the head of the Political Expert Group. According to his information, the reduction of donations has already caused some problems, for example in terms of financing of sociological research in the regions, which hasn’t been the case until now. “Also they are concerned that the UPF staff salaries may be higher now than those of the United Russia employees.” This can result in an exodus of people from the party’s executive committees. They will leave the ruling party to work for the UPF executive committees,” says Kalachev.

Furthermore, the political analyst firmly believes that, for example, the LDPR, that received 520 million roubles over the last three months of the reporting period, does not have any issues with unappreciative investors precisely because the party has only one center of decision-making. After all, this game is all about just one person, its leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky, who, it appears, has made all the accounting transparent. “According to reports, the LDPR does not divert the money. And it gives politicians an opportunity to become a member in exchange for financial assistance. As a result, the party coffer is filled by the companies associated with it. After all, if you need to settle things within the party, you can only do it with the party itself,” says the analyst.

However, it’s not only United Russia that depends exclusively on the state budget. Based on the financial statements of other parties, neither Yabloko (in three months the party accounts received only 10,000 roubles), nor “Just Russia” (with its 39 thousand of sponsor money) has any sponsors, other than the state.