The United Electronic Trading Platform (UETP), a nationwide bidding platform for state purchasing, announced last Tuesday that thousands of companies have joined the Popular Front through its website.

Announced last May, the Popular Front is a political initiative aimed at supporting Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and his United Russia party in the forthcoming legislative and presidential elections to be held in December 2011 and March 2012, respectively.

UETP claims over 5,600 of its users, representing over 3,000 different organizations, have already joined the Popular Front. Another 14,000 organizations could join in the near future. UETP explains its support for the Popular Front was moved by its concern not to let “unscrupulous bureaucrats and affiliated companies” lobby for changes to the current legislation in a bid to return to less transparent procedures for state purchasing.

The Russian government decided to shift to electronic bidding in 2009. In 2010, five companies – including UETP, which enjoys support from the Moscow city government – were selected to operate bidding platforms. Since the beginning of 2011, e-bidding has become the major form of state purchasing in Russia, representing over 60% of the total volume of state purchases, or over 5 trillion rubles ($177 billion) a year, according to UETP.

UETP provides electronic bidding and trading services all over Russia. Its platform currently lists 212,000 participating organizations, including 66,000 active ones. To date, UETP has conducted over 75,000 transactions worth a total of over 485 billion rubles, or over $17 billion.