2 Senior United Russia Officials Leave Posts

Two senior United Russia officials have been dismissed over possible financial fraud linked to the presidential campaign of First Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, a United Russia source said Monday.

Sergei Zhiltsov and Vladimir Barinov, members of the party's executive committee, were suspected of "financial machinations" linked to the premature mailing of requests to friendly nongovernmental organizations about financing Medvedev's election fund, the source said.

The Central Elections Commission only accepted Medvedev's registration papers as a candidate Monday.

A party spokeswoman, Natalya Virtuozova, said Monday that she could not comment on the issue. Repeated calls to Zhiltsov's United Russia office went unanswered Monday.

"If the document had not been connected to the presidential election campaign, the dust-up wouldn't have been so loud," the source said.

The head of the party's executive committee, Andrei Vorobyov, rejected the idea that Zhiltsov might have done something wrong. "This is total rubbish!" he told Gazeta.ru. "His departure is connected to a change of jobs."

In the meantime, the party has toughened entry rules for new applicants, Vorobyov told Vedomosti in Monday's edition. Previous participation in the party's activities -- like donations or membership in a professional union -- and an interview will be among the requirements to join, Vorobyov said.