Putin Promises Billions In New Spending Ahead Of Russian Elections.

MOSCOW -- Russian President Vladimir Putin has promised billions of rubles in additional spending in the months remaining before legislative elections in September.

Putin was addressing a congress of the ruling United Russia party in Moscow on June 19. Although Putin is technically not a member of the party, United Russia's main platform is to support Putin and it is the mechanism by which the Kremlin maintains a near monopoly on all levels of political power.

Putin praised United Russia for its "ability to renew and constantly develop" in a speech in which he promised to boost spending on infrastructure, education, and health care.

"I'm sure that United Russia sets for itself the highest bar, which is to confirm its leadership position and to secure victory in the elections," Putin said.

Putin also proposed that United Russia's national party list feature prominent figures including Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. He did not mention the relatively unpopular former president, Dmitry Medvedev, who heads United Russia and who also addressed the June 19 congress.

With the country mired in economic woes that have seen a decline in real incomes and rising inflation, United Russia has been polling at historic lows. According to the Levada Center polling outfit, just 27 percent of Russians support the party, down from 31 percent last August.

In the run-up to the elections, during which all 450 seats in the lower house of parliament, the State Duma, will be up for grabs, the Kremlin has cracked down -- sometimes brutally -- on opposition political figures and independent media.

In the 2016 Duma elections, United Russia won 90 percent of the 225 single-mandate seats despite winning just over 50 percent of the vote. Political analysts say that many of these seats could be vulnerable if popular opposition figures were able to participate in the elections.

Opposition leader Aleksei Navalny, who suffered a near-fatal nerve-agent poisoning last August that he blames on Putin, was imprisoned in January. His network of regional offices closed down after the government declared them to be an "extremist" organization.

Other potential independent candidates have also been persecuted. Former State Duma Deputy Dmitry Gudkov fled the country earlier this month after police opened a fraud investigation against him and a relative.

Moscow municipal lawmaker Ketevan Kharaidze, of the Yabloko party, and St. Petersburg municipal deputy Maksim Reznik were both detained on June 18.

Radio Free Europe

RFE/RL journalists report the news in 22 countries where a free press is banned by the government or not fully established, including Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Russia.

https://www.rferl.org/

Related news
Belarus Shuts Down More NGOs Amid Continued Crackdown.

Belarus Shuts Down More NGOs Amid Continued Crackdown.

Belarus has forced the closure of 15 more nongovernmental organizations as strongman Alyaksandr Lukashenka's crackdown against pro-democracy activists, the independent media, and civil rights groups continues to intensify.

Radio Free Europe

Trans-Siberian Railroad Blocked After Bridge Collapse.

Trans-Siberian Railroad Blocked After Bridge Collapse.

Floods caused by heavy rains in Siberia have led to the collapse of a bridge, severing the Trans-Siberian Railway, the world's longest rail line that spans Russia, from Moscow to the Pacific port city of Vladivostok.

Radio Free Europe

Jailed Journalist Safronov Decries Russia's 'Spy-Making' System.

Jailed Journalist Safronov Decries Russia's 'Spy-Making' System.

Jailed former Russian journalist Ivan Safronov, who is charged with high treason, has slammed state authorities, including the judiciary, for their treatment of suspects and methods used in investigating espionage amid a wave of cases aimed at muz...

Radio Free Europe

Deadly flooding paralyzes Henan province in China - DW News.

Deadly flooding paralyzes Henan province in China - DW News.

At least 33 people have been killed in the severe flooding in central China's province of Henan, and more than 100,000 people have been evacuated from their homes. With more rain on the way, there are fears that the situation may get worse. Subscr...

Pollution Concerns In Florida Grow Over Return Of Big Cruise Ships.

Pollution Concerns In Florida Grow Over Return Of Big Cruise Ships.

Water around the Florida coast has been cleaner during the Covid-19 pandemic as a result of minimal pollution. NBC News' Josh Lederman takes an in-depth look to see what the cause might be. » Subscribe to MSNBC: MSNBC delivers breaking news, in-de...

Cuban Catholics feel 'betrayed' by the Pope: Rachel Campos-Duffy.

Cuban Catholics feel 'betrayed' by the Pope: Rachel Campos-Duffy.

'Fox & Friends Weekend' co-host Rachel Campos-Duffy says the Pope's response to the consequences of communism is 'weak and next to nothing.' Subscribe to Fox News! Watch more Fox News Video: Watch Fox News Channel Live: FOX News Channel (FNC) is a...

This Morning’s Top Headlines – July 22 - Morning News NOW.

This Morning’s Top Headlines – July 22 - Morning News NOW.

A Covid-19 "swat team" is deployed in Las Vegas to battle the rapidly spreading Delta variant, first lady Jill Biden arrives in Tokyo for the long-delayed 2020 Olympics, and an Arkansas judge blocks the state's ban on gender-affirming care for tra...

Patrice Evra says racist abuse in English football is the worst it's ever been.

Patrice Evra says racist abuse in English football is the worst it's ever been.

Patrice Evra has described those who bombarded England players with racist abuse after the Euro 2020 final as bringing 'shame to the country.' Speaking to Sky News correspondent Inzaman Rashid, the former Manchester United and France captain said ...

Sunbathers jostle for best socially distanced spots on Alicante beach after queuing from 6 AM.

Sunbathers jostle for best socially distanced spots on Alicante beach after queuing from 6 AM.

THIS is the hilarious moment beachgoers jostle to get the best "socially-distanced" plot on a popular Spanish beach after queueing from 6am. The desperate dash was filmed in Torrevieja in Alicante with similar scenes reported across the country as...