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President Putin Says Elections Will Bring New Leadership


Russian President Vladimir Putin says the country's parliamentary and presidential elections will bring a total renewal of the country's top leadership. VOA Correspondent Peter Fedynsky has details from Moscow.

President Putin's appearance at a partisan political rally in Moscow led the news on all three of Russia's nationwide television channels.

Mr. Putin told about 5,000 supporters at a local stadium, Luzhniki, that victory of his United Russia Party in December 2 parliamentary elections will also ensure a win for the organization's candidate in presidential balloting three months later.

Mr. Putin says parliamentary and presidential elections will bring a total renewal of the country's top leadership. He adds that in order for the new president and lawmakers to cooperate effectively, United Russia must win.

Mr. Putin agreed to put his name at the top of the party list in parliamentary balloting. Voters will not choose individual candidates, but rather a party, which will appoint its parliamentary delegation.

The Kremlin leader said the good of the country depends not only on United Russia's control of the new parliament, but also on its ability to influence the policies of federal and regional governments, the courts, and Central Bank.

In addition, Mr. Putin said parliament should not be turned into what he called "a collection of populists paralyzed by demagoguery and corruption." He directly accused opponents of behaving like jackals who count on financial support of foreign governments, but not of their own people.

The organizer of the Putin rally, attorney Pavel Astakhov told VOA that Putin supporters represent people throughout Russia who seek to strengthen the country and thereby guarantee a better future.

Astakhov says strong leaders enjoy strong popular support. He adds that leaders need to know why people lend their support, and why they criticize if there is need for criticism.

Speaking at a news conference at the Interfax News Agency, the leader of the opposition Yabloko Party, Grigory Yavlinsky, warned that Russia is on the verge of restoring a one-party system. His remarks did not make national television news. Yavlinsky added that elections are a prologue to a semi-dictatorial state in which the Putin administration is preserved for life.

Russian opposition and human rights activist Lev Ponomarev told the VOA that Mr. Putin's support does not come from the grassroots.

Ponomarev says people around the president are making a commotion to get a better deal for themselves, and to have rock-solid, but comfortable place to sit in.

The Russian Public Opinion Research Center indicates United Russia enjoys an overwhelming lead in the polls, with 56 percent support. That of other parties is in the single digits.

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