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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

United Russia: No Ultranationalist Bid

A United Russia official on Monday denied a newspaper report that the pro-Kremlin party was actively courting hard-core nationalist voters.

"United Russia has never sought the support of ultranationalists," said party spokesman Leonid Goryainov. "Our electorate is better described as patriotic."

Vedomosti reported Monday that several members of the United Russia faction in the State Duma and the leader of its youth organization had joined forces to create the so-called Russian Project with the aim of attracting ultranationalist votes.

Goryainov said the project's real goals included conducting public forums that would bring together experts in a wide range of fields, as well as promoting legislation to preserve Russian culture and the purity of the Russian language.

Russian Project coordinator Ivan Demidov said Monday that the time had come to cultivate a strong and positive sense of self among the Russian people, which was destroyed when the Soviet Union collapsed 15 years ago. He declined to say whether this would involve promoting extreme forms of nationalism.

Demidov and co-coordinators Andrei Isayev and Pavel Voronin, both United Russia Duma deputies, launched the project Saturday at the Center for Social Conservatism in Politics.

Demidov, who doubles as the head of United Russia's youth organization, Young Guard, took pains to distance the Russian Project from ultranationalism, which has enjoyed a rise in popularity.

"United Russia knows the real meaning of the words nationalism and nationalist, unlike the extremist organizations that have become so numerous recently," he said.

The party is planning a series of meetings later this month, with activists and the public to stir up support for the project in the Pskov and Stavropol regions.

The Kremlin has long been trying to co-opt the nationalist rhetoric that proved so successful for opposition parties such as Rodina, said Nikolai Petrov, a political analyst with the Carnegie Moscow Center.

"The Kremlin has been adopting nationalist rhetoric for quite a while. Now that Rodina has faded into the background, the Kremlin is trying to win over its voters," Petrov said.