Putin mocks Russian protestors
MOSCOW - The Associated PressPrime Minister Vladimir Putin said yesterday he was untroubled by a protest wave that shook his 12-year domination of Russia but ruthlessly mocked the opposition and rejected claims of election rigging.
In his annual phone-in session, he poked fun at the white ribbon that the protestors have used as their symbol -- saying he thought it was part of an anti-AIDS campaign -- and alleged that some had been paid by the United States.”I saw on television mostly young, active people clearly expressing their position. I am pleased to see this,” Putin said in his first reaction to the demonstrations over the December 4 polls. “And if this is the result of the Putin regime, then this is good. I see nothing extraordinary about it.”
Referring to the white ribbons, he said, “I decided that it was an anti-AIDS campaign... that they pinned on contraceptives, I beg your pardon, only folding them in a strange way.” Tens of thousands demonstrated on Dec. 10 in Moscow in Russia’s biggest show of popular discontent since the turbulent 1990s, appearing to show the once invincible support of Putin was on the wane.