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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

United Russia Stakes Claim to Politics of Nationalism

A senior United Russia official on Wednesday staked the pro-Kremlin party's claim on the politics of nationalism as the long campaign for the State Duma gets under way.

"No other political party can employ nationalist rhetoric and raise the 'Russian question' without slipping into extremism," said Andrei Isayev, a United Russia Duma deputy and co-coordinator of the party's Russian Project.

"We will try to break the extremists' and fringe elements' monopoly on nationalist rhetoric," he said. "We need to show that pronouncing the word 'Russian' does not require you to turn into a fascist."

Under the umbrella of the Russian Project, unveiled last Saturday, the party says it will hold public forums and promote legislation to preserve Russian culture and the purity of the Russian language.

Some political analysts say the Russian Project is little more than a campaign gimmick.

"This is not a 'Russian' project; it's a typical election-year project aimed at exploiting people's sense of their national identity," Mikhail Delyagin, a former leader of the nationalist Rodina party who is now affiliated with the Institute for Globalization Studies, told RIA-Novosti.

Mark Urnov, head of the Expertiza think tank, said Russians were not ready for populist, patriotic politics and that United Russia's initiative would only fuel the rise of ultranationalism.

"A discussion of this issue is necessary among the experts, but not in the public domain, because the public conscience is still neurotic and unstable. People aren't ready for this," Urnov said.