The leadership of the United Russia party has not been discussing any change of its leader and name, as well as its possible merger with the All-Russia People's Front (ONF), claims Sergey Perminov, deputy secretary of the United Russia's General Council.
"These are just someone's fancy ideas,” Perminov said denying the information which had appeared in the media. “I’m firmly convinced that they are absolutely groundless."According to him, the party did not even discuss rebranding or merging with the All-Russia People's Front. "For us, this information is totally new, as it is for you," Perminov said. The All-Russia People's Front also stated that the possibility of merging with United Russia was not discussed. "No, I don't know about that,” said Nikolay Govorin, a member of the ONF central staff and State Duma deputy. “This information has not been publicly discussed. I don't know anything about it yet.” Earlier, the media reported that United Russia is going to merge with the ONF by the parliamentary elections which are scheduled for 2021. At the same time, after being merged, the parties will allegedly wait for rebranding. Only the word "Russia" will be kept in its name. Moreover, the party will have three leaders. As stated in the article, incumbent chair Dmitry Medvedev will not be included. Indeed, Alexey Gordeev, deputy speaker of the State Duma, and Svetlana Chupsheva, the director general of the Strategic Initiatives Agency are said to be on the candidates’ list. The changes are aimed at getting rid of the negative image United Russia has accumulated. According to the Russian Public Opinion Research Center (VCIOM), as of February 16 the party's popularity rating was 32.7%, while in June 2018, it was 48%. However, even the members of United Russia themselves admit that a merger as such will change the party's policy dramatically. Let us recall that the United Russia party was established in December 2001. Since 26 May 2012, Dmitry Medvedev, former Russian President and former prime minister, has been chairman the party. Well-informed sources inside the United Russian party told Vedomosti, a Moscow-based business daily, that Medvedev might step down as the party leader in January – immediately after the Russian government resignation. United Russia representatives believe that the step might be caused by Medvedev's unclear duties as deputy chairman of the Security Council. In addition, political experts say that it would be "very difficult" to go to the polls with Medvedev as leader. Meanwhile, in late January, Medvedev himself announced that new people are to be attracted to the party, "those who have experience working at both the municipal and regional levels and for the party as a whole.” He called for supporting the individuals of this kind at the ballot box. Moreover, Medvedev noted that United Russia should offer people "a precise and transparent plan of actions in all areas.” According to him, the party has all chances to achieve victory in the competition for political leadership in the country. He also noted that United Russia is the only party capable of implementing the Russian President's Address to the Federal Assembly. The day before the party leadership announced that Medvedev’s office had been included in the party structure. United Russia’s Telegram channel notes that the office will be engaged in support of Dmitry Medvedev's activities on the party line.