Putin promises Russians bigger say in politics: daily

Putin promises Russians bigger say in politics: daily

Moscow - The Associated Press
Putin promises Russians bigger say in politics: daily

Russia's Prime Minister Vladimir Putin meets local officials during a visit to the town of Roza, in the Southern Urals Chelyabinsk region, on February 4, 2012. AFP Photo

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, who is running for a third term as president, yesterday promised Russians a bigger say in politics amid the growing public discontent with his dominance of power.

In a campaign article published in the Kommersant daily yesterday, Putin said the government must turn around its institutions to accommodate the increasingly vocal grass roots.

“The quality of our public governance is lagging behind the willingness of civil society to take part in it,” he said.

Putin, who was Russia’s president in 2000-2008, is facing a wave of public discontent over widespread election fraud in the Dec. 4 parliamentary election.

Tens of thousands of people have rallied in Russian cities since December. Sunday’s protest in Moscow drew as many as 120,000 people despite temperatures plummeting to minus 20 degrees Celsius.

Although he has not mentioned any concrete steps, the prime minister stressed the need “to renew the mechanism of our democracy.” Putin also spoke in favor of a public discussion of key legislation and said that regional and municipal officials should have more freedom in budget policies and governance.

In response to the growing public frustration and anger with corrupt officials, Putin promised to bring changes to the bureaucratic system and eliminate the incentives for officials take bribes.