December 15, 2011

Russia election: Putin accepts 'lawful' protests

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has said protests over alleged fraud in parliamentary elections are acceptable if demonstrators stay within the law.
He said he would ask for web cameras to be installed at all polling stations in time for the March presidential election in which he will be standing.
But he insisted the results reflected the balance of political forces and he was scathing about some protesters.
In a televised live chat, he also attacked US foreign policy.
After serving two terms as president from 2000 to 2008, Mr Putin was obliged under the Russian constitution to step aside after his second term but is now entitled to stand again.
"The fact that people express their opinion... is an absolutely normal thing as long, of course, as everybody acts within the framework of the law," he said, after protests on Saturday which saw around 50,000 people turn out in Moscow alone.

Start Quote

Let [the web cameras] operate round the clock, night and day, transmitting everything to the internet”
Vladimir PutinRussian Prime Minister
"If this is the result of the Putin regime I am quite happy and quite content with that. I don't see anything wrong with it," he added.
Thursday is the deadline for would-be presidential candidates to declare their bids, which must satisfy rigorous criteria at the central electoral commission.
Established opposition party leaders Vladimir Zhirinovsky, Gennady Zyuganov, Sergei Mironov and Grigory Yavlinsky were all due to declare, as was billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov.
One surprise candidacy is that of Putin ally Dmitry Mezentsev, who is governor of the Irkutsk region of eastern Siberia.
'Web cams everywhere'


This telethon is Vladimir Putin's annual opportunity to reinforce his image as Russia's national leader.
But his comments on the country's controversial parliamentary election, and the subsequent street protests, will infuriate those who are demanding a fresh ballot.
He described the white ribbons worn by some of the protesters as reminding him of condoms and suggested some of the younger protesters had been paid to come on to the streets. He also claimed that some leading Russian opposition activists had played a role in the "Orange Revolution" in Ukraine.
Mr Putin's proposal to install webcams in all Russian polling stations to prevent fraud is unlikely to convince the opposition that future elections will be free and fair.
But the aim of today's marathon phone-in is not to win over the opposition: it is to boost Mr Putin's image with the wider public, to present him as a competent manager and the only serious candidate in March's presidential poll.
Instances of ballot-stuffing were identified widely by Russian activists using social media to report them.
Concern over the conduct of the December parliamentary elections was expressed by foreign observers from the OSCE and others.
"As regards vote-rigging and the fact that the opposition are not pleased with the election results, there is nothing new here, this has always been the case," said Mr Putin.
"The opposition is there to fight for power and is fighting for power. That is why it is seeking any opportunity to come closer to power, to edge the current authorities out, to accuse them, to point to their mistakes."
Mr Putin appeared to mock some opposition protesters, likening their white ribbon symbol to a condom.
"I decided that it was an anti-Aids campaign... that they had, excuse me, pinned on contraceptives, only folding them in a strange way," he said.
Without naming any foreign powers, he condemned "coloured revolutions" such as the Orange movement in Ukraine as a "tested and tried scheme to destabilise society".
He said he was asking Russia's central electoral commission to install web cameras at all polling stations, saying he believed there were more than 90,000 of them.
"Let them operate round the clock, night and day, transmitting everything to the internet, so that the country sees what is happening at a specific ballot box, to remove any falsifications altogether," Mr Putin said.
McCain 'nuts'
Mr Putin laughed off a Russian press row over a photo of a spoilt ballot-paper on which was scrawled an obscene message addressed to himself.

Start Quote

McCain was captured during the war and kept in a pit - it would drive anyone nuts”
Vladimir PutinRussian prime minister
Referring to the report in Kommersant Vlast magazine, which led to the sacking of two top executives by its owner, he said: "The ballot-paper was photographed in London and you and I know who lives in London.
"Their wish to tell me to go you know where is linked to the fact that they want to come back here themselves and, while I'm here, they can't come back."
It was not clear whom Mr Putin was referring to, but the UK is frequently accused by Moscow of harbouring fugitives from justice in Russia.
The Russian prime minister dismissed a warning by former US presidential candidate and Vietnam veteran Senator John McCain that he faced being overthrown like Muammar Gaddafi in Libya.
"McCain was captured during the war and kept in a pit - it would drive anyone nuts," Mr Putin said.
On US foreign policy, the Russian leader said: "America doesn't need allies, it needs vassals."
"Did anyone in the States consult their allies about what to do in Afghanistan?" he asked rhetorically. "Damn right they didn't!"
Russia, by contrast, had "more friends than foes" abroad despite attempts to "shunt" it aside, Mr Putin said.
Warning against perceived threats to Russia, he paraphrased a famous saying by Tsar Alexander III, saying: "They all fear our hugeness."
US indignation
Mr Putin suggested the US military had organised Gaddafi's death.
"Who killed Gaddafi?" Putin asked. "Drones! American ones! They struck his convoy. And then by radio, via special forces that should not have been there anyway, they brought in so-called oppositionists and fighters and killed him without trial or investigation."
Washington responded by saying the suggestion that US special operations forces had been involved was "ludicrous".
"We did not have American boots on the ground in the Libya operation," US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta's spokesman, Captain John Kirby, told AFP news agency.
"All our support was done through the air and on the seas."
In other points Mr Putin
  • Said the future Russian government needed "an update"
  • Proposed relaxing electoral legislation to allow smaller opposition parties to take part in elections
  • Suggested former Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin, a respected figure in financial circles who resigned this year, could return to serve in a future government
  • Said inflation in Russia was at a record low and the economy would grow by 4.2-4.5% this year
  • Said he was not in favour of adoption by foreign couples
Asked to explain why spectators had booed when he entered the ring at a martial arts contest in Moscow last month, Mr Putin said: "Maybe the sight of my face in the ring didn't please somebody? I quite accept that.
"Maybe they were unhappy with [defeated fighter] Jeff Monson? Maybe they were unhappy with the fight? Maybe they thought it had been rigged!"
Over more than four and a half hours of live broadcasting, the Russian prime minister was also asked about his personal life. Asked what made him happy, he said: "I find my happiness in love."

No comments:

Post a Comment