Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has rejected opposition calls for a review of this month’s disputed parliamentary elections.
Speaking after last weekend’s mass protest over alleged electoral fraud, he accused the opposition of lacking goals and leaders.
“The problem is that they (the opposition) have no common agenda — well, there are many individual plans, but there is no general one. There are no clear and understandable means to achieve their goals, which are not clear. And there are no people capable of doing anything specific. In these types of situations, there is always an attempt to delegitimise and devalue everything which happens in the public sphere, especially over the electoral plans,” he said.
Putin also promised a transparent presidential election next year, when he is expected to seek a third term. He had no need to “cheat” in order to win, he was quoted as saying.
One leading opposition figure, blogger and anti-corruption campaigner Alexei Navalny, said in a radio interview that he was ready to run for president against Putin next year. He had harsh words for those in power.
“These people in the Kremlin and in the government, they are usurpers, they are there illegally. They are the ones who should be afraid. If someone is breaking the law or commits a crime, they should be arrested, charges should be brought, they should be in the dock and then face prison,” he said.
On Monday, protesters converged on a court in Moscow after another opposition activist had his prison term extended.
Sergei Udaltsov went on hunger strike after being arrested earlier this month for staging a rally without approval. Just as he was due to be released at the weekend, the court prolonged his prison term for resisting the police at a separate protest in October.