Mikhail Prokhorov’s proposal to limit the number of seats any winning party could take in the elections to the State Duma to 226 has drawn harsh criticism from the ruling United Russia party. It is the first deep conflict between two political forces, the analysts say.

Prokhorov, Russian metals tycoon and billionaire, told journalist that president Medvedev liked the idea and ordered his Kremlin staff to study Prokhorov’s proposal. But this order was “mere formality”, says a top Kremlin official. First deputy head of the Staff of the President Vladislav Surkov said that this initiative had no future. He explained that it was established practice to study all proposals made at the official meetings that the president holds. “It is unlikely that Prokhorov’s suggestion will be accepted, because it contradicts principals of democracy and violates the voters’ rights”, Surkov said.

Right Cause responded to Surkov’s words by castigating the ruling party for making show out of politics. “Hardly had a top Kremlin boss said a few words, the United Russia activists rushed to a piquet with ridiculous slogans in their hands. It was a masquerade,” says the statement issued by Right Cause.

Right Cause believes that the only way to avoid rigging the elections is to restrict the number of seats the ruling party can win. Otherwise, the United Russia party bosses would order governors to “ensure” necessary figures at the poll. “United Russia adheres to the simple principle – it should be present in every corner of the political field,” according to the statement.  

The Central Electoral Commission (the body responsible for organizing the elections) is reported by the Russian Mafia (rumafia.com) to be in favour of Prokhorov’s idea. A source in the commission called the proposal “quite sensible”, saying that the limit on the number of seats for the winning party is no more of the law violation than giving a single seat to a party that gathers 5% of votes – election threshold, according to the current electoral regulations.