Putin belittles ‘leaderless’ Russia Spring
Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin. AP photoRussia’s protest movement is devoid of clear aims and leaders, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said yesterday, mocking demonstrators’ demands for a review of the results of Dec. 4’s disputed parliamentary polls.
“They have no united program, clear ways of reaching their aims – which are themselves not clear – or people who could achieve something concrete,” Putin said in comments broadcast by state television.
“I have difficulty imagining who from their ranks could do concrete work for the development of our state,” Putin told a meeting of his All-Russian Popular Front that rallies support for him.
He bluntly rejected the protestors’ most pressing demand – a review and re-run of the polls for the State Duma, the country’s lower house of Parliament, which was won by the ruling United Russia party amid opposition allegations of fraud.
“The elections are over. The Parliament has started its work and a speaker [has been] elected. The State Duma is working ... There can be no talk of any review,” Putin said. “There is only one way prescribed by law – an appeal to court.”
But Putin said it was necessary to lift any “insinuations” that alleged there would be fraud in the March 4 presidential polls and vowed that there would be increased transparency if required. “I, as one of the candidates, need no tricks. I want to have the will of the people and their trust. Without that there is no point in working.”
Tens of thousands of people rallied in central Moscow on Dec. 24 for the second time in a demonstration that was both bigger and more directly aimed against Putin than the first protest on Dec. 10.
Putin’s authority has been dented by the Dec. 4 election, in which his party lost 25 percent of seats and barely retained its majority despite allegations of vote-rigging in its favor. The alleged fraud triggered the largest protests Russia has seen since the Soviet collapse 20 years ago, with tens of thousands demanding an end to Putin’s 12-year rule.
Compiled from AFP and AP by the Daily News staff.