Putin vows to end police repression in Russia
MOSCOW - Agence France- Presse
Russia's Prime Minister Vladimir Putin chairs a conference call at the government headquarters in Moscow, on January 10, 2012. AFP PhotoPrime Minister Vladimir Putin on Thursday vowed to end police repression in Russia and make government accountable, as he kicked off his campaign for presidential elections after mass protests.
In his manifesto for the March 2012 elections where he plans to take an unprecedented third Kremlin term, Putin also promised to build a strong Russia and retaliate against Western states that failed to listen to Moscow.
The manifesto, posted on his new campaign site putin2012.ru, has been published one month after the start of anti-Putin protests which rallied tens of thousands and posed the biggest challenge to his rule.
"We need to re-think the whole system of public security and need to stop the extremely repressive tendency" of the security forces in Russia, Putin wrote in the election programme.
"This situation is deforming our society and is making it morally unhealthy. The actions of the security forces should be aimed at protecting and supporting legal business -- not fighting it." The behaviour of the security forces in Russia is seen as one of Russia's biggest scourges due to widespread corruption and iron-fisted tactics. The promise by Putin may be seen as a concession to the protest movement.
Putin has been repeatedly lambasted by critics during his previous two terms in the Kremlin and current stint as prime minister for allowing the security forces Soviet-style powers to control society.
"We will ensure the accountability of the authorities towards the society that they are working for," Putin said, proposing "effective government under the control of the people." He said the widespread practice in Russia of keeping suspects in pre-trial detention should be reduced and as well as the use of jail sentences for less significant crimes.
But in a stern warning to the West, Putin also vowed that world powers would not be able to make decisions "behind the back of Russia or avoiding Russia and her interests." "Unilateral actions by our partners that fail to take into account Russia's opinion and her interests will receive a corresponding response," Putin wrote.
He promised to create "strong Russia in a complex world".
The presidential elections are now seen by analysts as a far tougher challenge for Putin than before the rallies that brought together tens of thousands of people in Moscow breaking the taboo against mass protest in Russia.
He is still widely expected to win the presidential elections but opinion polls have predicted he may, for the first time in his career, need a second round.