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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

United Russia Misses Party-List Deadline

United Russia has missed an internal deadline to select candidates for its party lists, fueling speculation that the pro-Kremlin party is entering the campaign season in disarray.

Each of the party's regional branches was supposed to choose candidates for its list by the end of last month. The party's general council was to meet Monday to review the results.

But the meeting has been indefinitely postponed, a United Russia spokeswoman said Wednesday, apparently after the regional branches failed to complete their lists.

The main problem lies with the Moscow region branch, Gazeta.ru reported Wednesday. Boris Gromov, the popular and influential governor of the Moscow region, balked after taking issue with the candidates recommended by the party's leadership, the report said, citing sources in the State Duma and United Russia.

The leadership drafted a list of 33 candidates, including Gromov and 12 United Russia deputies in the current Duma, it said. Governors typically are placed at the top of party lists to raise support for their party, not to relinquish their posts for seats in the Duma.

An official in United Russia's Moscow region branch said the region's party list would not be completed until the end of September.

"We will have our conference to decide who will get on the regional ticket in the last days of September," said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because she was not authorized to speak to the media.

But United Russia's point man for the elections, Andrei Vorobyov, maintained in a written reply to questions that the Moscow region branch had finished its list and the results would be announced Sept. 17.

He said all party lists would be finalized at a party conference Oct. 1.

Gromov's spokesman, Andrei Barkovsky, directed all queries about the matter to the head of the regional branch of United Russia, Vladimir Shapkin. A secretary at Shapkin's office refused to put repeated telephone calls through to him, saying he was busy in meetings.

The idea of having regional branches sign off on party lists was a mistake, said Rostislav Turovsky, a political analyst with the Agency for Regional Information. "It exposed conflicts between the party's headquarters and regional party branches patronized by governors," he said.

Duma First Deputy Speaker Lyubov Sliska, whom headquarters had expected to be in second place, after the governor, on the Tambov region's list was instead ninth and on the last line of the list. In the Samara region, a local party activist, Alexander Zhivaikin, was placed at the top of the list, even though his candidacy was not proposed by headquarters.

The party-list problem comes after United Russia was accused earlier this week of delaying the start of the Duma campaign from Monday to Wednesday to help it keep up with electoral paperwork. United Russia denied the accusation. United Russia is expected to emerge as the biggest winner in the Duma elections Dec. 2, with 45 percent to 60 percent of the vote.