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First deputy PM joins Putin's umbrella group

NOVO-OGARYOVO, July 20 (RIA Novosti) - Russian First Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov has joined Prime Minister Vladimir Putin's All Russian People's Front (ARPF), a government spokesman said on Wednesday.

Putin called for the creation of the ARPF at a conference of the ruling United Russia party in May to broaden the party's electoral base with "non-party people," including trade unions, NGOs, business associations and youth groups.

In the over two and a half months since the ARPR has been joined by more than 500 community groups and public organizations. Some of their members have however expressed outrage at being entered into the movement without their personal consent.

Last week United Russia General Council Board Secretary Sergei Neverov suggested Cabinet members could top a number of the party's regional election lists.

Earlier in the day, Deputy Prime Minister Viktor Zubkov said he would run for lower house of the Russian parliament, the State Duma, on a United Russia ticket from the Volgograd region.

Analysts see Putin's project as a bid to boost his United Russia party's flagging popularity and head off a potentially damaging poor showing in upcoming parliamentary elections.

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