A freshly established movement in support of Prime Minister and presidential candidate Vladimir Putin will become a political party for the country’s 29-million-strong working class, founders said on Wednesday.
In Defense of the Working Man movement, whose creation was announced earlier this month, will turn into a labor party that would try to sway Putin toward a moderate leftist policy, group leaders said at a founding conference in Yekaterinburg, local news agency Ura.ru reported.
The party’s core constituencies will be workers in the industrial Urals region, as well as farmers and state employees, co-founder Igor Kholmanskikh said at the conference, Regnum.ru reported.
Kholmanskikh became an overnight celebrity, reminiscent of America's “Joe the Plumber,” in December, when he promised to Putin on live television to travel to the capital to personally crack down on grassroots protesters against the ruling establishment.
He stuck to his position on Wednesday, denouncing the “creative class,” as the authorities dubbed the protesters, most of whom belong to the middle class, Ura.ru said.
“We are the salt of the earth, and we will decide on how the country will live,” Kholmanskikh said.
“Putin is having it harder than ever. He knows about you and the things you do,” he added, speaking to delegates at the conference. Protests in Moscow are not receding, with a new wave expected after the presidential elections on Sunday.
Another co-founder, Andrei Vetluzhskikh, said the party plans to “exert pressure” on Putin to ensure his policies benefit the working class.
Organizers did not say when they might apply for party registration with the Justice Ministry. Legislative amendments currently being fast-tracked by the parliament are set to dramatically ease party registration rules starting in 2013.
Media speculated earlier that Kholmanskikh may be appointed the new head of the populist Liberal Democratic Party instead of its flamboyant leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky, who is 65. The reports were never officially confirmed.
The working class in Russia is expected to shrink from the current 18 percent of the able-bodied adult populace to 15 percent by 2020, political analyst Yevgeny Minchenko said, Ura.ru reported.