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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

President Heaps Praise on United Russia

President Vladimir Putin praised the State Duma and its dominant Kremlin-backed party Saturday -- the latest in a string of widely publicized pronouncements that critics say show the Kremlin is flouting election laws before next month's vote.

Putin's comments, televised extensively on state-run television, were made to leaders of United Russia, which is expected to win overwhelmingly in the Dec. 2 vote.

Last month, Putin agreed to head the party's ticket and, amid growing uncertainty about his post-presidential plans, said he would consider serving as prime minister.

Kremlin critics, both Russian and international, have said the election campaign is turning out to be more of a referendum on Putin's presidency than a fair, competitive democratic election.

In remarks that sounded like an election campaign commercial, Putin praised the party leaders for working "with great effectiveness and high quality."

"You need to win the elections so that much of what has been proposed is not lost in populist chatter," he said in remarks broadcast for nearly one-third of the state-run television newscast.

"You need to guarantee to the country, guarantee to the citizens of the Russian Federation ... that all [our] plans will not be derailed. This can happen only if in the Duma there is a positive majority looking for the constructive development of the country."

n United Russia will win an overwhelming majority of seats in State Duma elections next month, according to a poll published by the Levada Center on Friday.

Levada's nationwide poll ahead of the Dec. 2 elections gave United Russia 67 percent support.

The biggest opposition party, the Communists, scored 14 percent in the poll.

No other party is likely to pass the 7 percent threshold required for representation, according to the poll.