Russia’s prime minister Vladimir Putin has launched his party’s election campaign with a typical show of machismo on the Black Sea coast.
He led a group of bikers calling themselves the ‘Night Wolves’ in front of a Soviet-era warship in Novorossiysk.
The election for members of the lower house, or Duma, will be in December.
Putin spoke of cementing the different peoples of Russia, who come from different ethnic backgrounds and religions into one indivisible, united and great nation.
His words echoed sentiments expressed by President Medvedev warning that rising ethnic tension could become a real danger in Russia.
It has already become a central theme of the election. Medvedev said that inciting ethnic hatred would be ‘decisively suppressed.’
The show in Novorossiysk was worthy of the nickname given to Putin in American diplomatic cables. They call him ‘Alpha Dog.’
The election for the 450 members of the Duma will set the scene for the presidential election next March.
Medvedev and Putin have not yet said which of them will run.
Several protesters were arrested at a demonstration outside the Electoral Commission in Moscow. They called for the parliamentary election to be boycotted, saying it will be a sham.