Sunday, 19 June 2011

Taking Putin's front to the Russian people

They’ve delved into the far Arctic and filmed strange sci-fi islands – but now some of Russia’s luminaries are resurrecting the tradition of the “tolmach”.

Polar explorer Artur Chilingarov and film director Fyodor Bondarchuk, pictured above, are among a group of 30 “interpreters” set to spread the word about Vladimir Putin’s All-Russian People’s Front.

The new-look movement has faced criticism in many quarters, and a cohort of famous followers is to be deployed to help set the record straight.

“These are people, professionals, who know the subject and know how to tell their story,” said Andrei Vorobyov, head of United Russia’s central executive committee.

“At the federal level we have selected about 30 people … they love to travel the country.”

The group has been dubbed “tolmachi”, an old Russian word dating from the 17th century which referred to a specialized translator of the spoken word.

And the modern-day group has been selected for its popularity and political reliability, Vorobyov added.

“We have chosen people who are trusted and respected; people who in general do not throw stones,” he said.

Meanwhile Putin’s new project is already making its presence felt in the ranks of United Russia.

Long-serving party members are beginning to shuffle into new roles to make way for the fresh new people’s front members, Vedomosti reported.

Among the more high-profile figures involved is Kursk Region’s Valery Ryazan, deputy head of the United Russia Duma faction.

But now, aged 60, he is considering a move to the Federation Council, the upper chamber of Russia’s parliament.

Vorobyov suggested that the Duma faction of United Russia could draw up to 35 per cent of its membership from the people’s front.

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