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Putin blames US for poll protests

The Russian Prime Minister accuses US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton of orchestrating mass agitations on Russia's streets after the elections

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin accused the United States yesterday of stirring up protests against his 12-year rule and said foreign countries were spending hundreds of millions of dollars to influence Russian elections.


Fuel to the fire: Russian PM Vladimir Putin said that it was US Secretary
of State Hillary Clinton who had instigated people to oppose the polls
causing violence on the streets. pics/afp


In his first public remarks about daily demonstrations over allegations that Sunday's election was slanted to favour his ruling party, Putin said US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had encouraged Kremlin opponents by criticising the vote.

"She set the tone for some opposition activists, gave them a signal, they heard this signal and started active work," Putin told supporters as he laid out plans for his campaign to return to the presidency in a March election. Clinton angered the Kremlin after she declared that the vote, which international observers said was riddled with fraud, was neither free nor fair.

Anti-US
But Putin accused Clinton of rushing to conclusions before the facts were all in. He said, "I watched the reaction of our American partners. The first thing that the secretary of state said was that the elections were dishonest and unfair even though she had not even received material from the election monitors at that stage."
Insisting that the people did not want a revolution or any sharp changes, he made it clear that the Kremlin will not allow the street protests to escalate.

"You and I know that that in our country people do not want the situation to develop like it did in Kyrgyzstan or in the recent past in Ukraine," he said, referring to mass street demonstrations that brought down those countries' governments. "Nobody wants chaos."

While he said he accepted that law-abiding citizens had the right to protest and voice their opinions "within the framework of the law", he said that anyone breaking the law would be punished.

Around 1,000 protesters have been arrested since Sunday's election but anti-Kremlin activists are still planning a big nationwide protest on Saturday which thousands of people have said on the Internet they will attend.
Signalling that the Kremlin would continue to crack down hard on the opposition, Putin said it might even be necessary to change the law.

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Tennis star Marat Safin is swapping tennis for business after being elected to the Russian Parliament. Safin who was elected to the 450-seat lower house of Russian Parliament, said he had thought long and hard about what to do with his life after his sporting career.

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