Bribes for votes video stings Russia's ruling party

31st October 2011, Comments 0 comments

Russia's ruling party engaged in heavy damage control on Monday after being stung by a viral video alleging to show a bribes for votes speech being delivered by one of its most senior officials.

The mobile phone footage shows central Izhevsk region administration chief Denis Agashin telling a gasping audience that future veterans' funding will depend on how many votes United Russia wins in December's parliamentary polls.

"Today ... the division of all the money, of all the resources -- everything happens like this: those who support the acting authorities ... get extra money and resources," Agashin says in the October 24 recording.

He went on to explain that Izhevsk officials who failed to provide Prime Minister Vladimir Putin's party with a majority in their district would get no extra veterans' funding next year.

"If the party collects between 51 and 54 percent in particular districts, I propose extra financing for that district's department -- 500,000 rubles ($17,000)," the Izhevsk administration chief says.

"If the party collects 55 to 59 percent in a district -- 700,000 rubles," he adds.

"And if the party get more than 60 percent -- a million."

The video was originally posted on his blog by the Russian whistle-blower Alexei Navalny -- a prolific blogger and private attorney who has taken on powerful Russian businesses in the past.

United Russia was created around Putin a decade ago and now dominates both Russia's lower house of parliament and most of the regional administrations.

But the group has been recently losing popularity and now faces allegations of corruption that Putin himself has criticised while plotting his return to the presidency next year.

Analysts suggest that United Russia will struggle to keep the constitutional majority that has enabled it to rubber-stamp Kremlin legislation for the past fours years without much public debate.

A senior official at the party said late Sunday that Agashin was not speaking in the name of United Russia when making his address.

"The idea of linking veteran organisations' funding with United Russia's election results belongs to no one but Agashin himself," top party official Sergei Zheleznyak told the Interfax news agency.

"There were -- and could have been -- no instructions from the party leadership on that score."

© 2011 AFP

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