| How the sausage is made|
United Russia is the dominant political party in the State Duma of Russia, holding 336 of the 450 seats.
Party of crooks and thieves
It was initially constructed for the express purpose of getting Vladimir Putin a designated political machine for him to win elections. It happened to cohere, remain a viable force, and develop a platform like an actual party, purely out of a happy accident. United Russia claims to be (depending on the moment) centrist, conservative, or center-right, but they're actually populist (and vaguely corporatist) — they claim their purpose is to remove the difference between young and old, rich and poor, et cetera, which was what, you know, communism is supposed to do.
As you'd expect, United Russia follows whatever Putin wants it to follow, while hogging votes through aggressive propaganda, underhanded manipulations rather than straight-up voter disenfranchisement, and straight-up ordering people how to vote. It isn't quite the juggernaut the Communist Party was because United Russia is mostly populated by bureaucrats who simply know how to broker deals with the Mafia and the oligarchs. However, they're still an unpleasant bunch who are only held together because they want the perks that come with being a member of the Putinarchy.
Currently, it panders to their version of the religious right, most notably with its LGBT discrimination and its blasphemy laws that exempt the Russian Orthodox Church from taxes and other legal penalties based on "religious freedoms."
It heavily favors neo-Tsarist ideas, where the ruling elites hold most of the power. Still, it throws a bone to older citizens who want crypto-Soviet era policies like anti-sexual content laws over media. The only thing these camps can agree upon is that liberal "pro-Westernists" should be given the boot, and Russia should be de-Americanized.
An Internet campaign started by blogger and corruption fighter Alexei Navalny resulted in United Russia getting the nickname "the party of swindlers and thieves", an expression that has become popular both online and offline and now pops up in Google's suggestions right after the party name in Russia.
Web of Trust gives the party website low ratings on everything, including child safety.