News / Europe

On Call-In Show, Putin Defends Poll Results

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin gestures while a national call-in TV show in Moscow, Russia. Putin said Thursday the results of Russia's parliamentary election reflected the people's will, and that the opposition had alleged vote fraud purely to str
Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin gestures while a national call-in TV show in Moscow, Russia. Putin said Thursday the results of Russia's parliamentary election reflected the people's will, and that the opposition had alleged vote fraud purely to str
James Brooke

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has kept silent since the nationwide protests started 10 days ago. On Thursday, he addressed the protests during 4 1/2-hour long telephone call-in show.

During the marathon session, Putin signaled that he will allow the protest movement to continue, but repeatedly heaped ridicule on the protesters.

He said some protesters were paid, that their leaders call them ‘sheep,' and that protest organizers have Russian passports “but act in the interest of foreign states and foreign money.”

The prime minister said when he watched videos of the protesters, he was initially confused by the white ribbons pinned on their chests, thinking they signaled an anti-Aids campaign and that they were actually condoms “only folded in a strange way.” Protesters said they wear folded white ribbons to symbolize their desire for peaceful, non-revolutionary change in Russia.

The protests erupted 10 days ago after parliamentary elections were marred by widespread fraud accusations. Officially, the ruling party won just over half the seats in parliament. Opposition leaders say that, without fraud, Putin’s party would have won one-third of the seats.

At the start of the call-in show, Russia’s veteran leader stressed that political losers always cry fraud.

"As for the fairness or unfairness: the opposition will always say the elections were not fair. Always," he said, speaking on national television. "This happens everywhere in all countries."

In a concession to fraud complaints, Putin ordered Russian courts to “energetically and objectively” pursue credible cases. Offering greater transparency for presidential elections in March, he proposed installing web cameras in all 90,000 voting stations in Russia.

He also promised that if he loses those elections, he will resign office immediately, ending 12 years as Russia’s leader.

But he showed no sign today of losing his appetite for the political fight.

In a clear bid to win votes, he said he would resist raising Russia’s pension age, that he would raise police salaries to cut bribe taking, and that he might create a “Ministry of Ethnicities” to address Russia’s multicultural character. Loosening controls on Russia’s top down political system, he called for direct elections for governors and for the upper chamber of Russia’s parliament.

In another bid for votes, Putin repeatedly played the anti-American card, bitterly attacking U.S. Senator John McCain, who tweeted last week that the Arab Spring is coming to Moscow.

“This was said about Russia, not me," he said. "Some want to move Russia aside so that it does not stand in the way of those wanting to rule the globe.”

Russia’s leader then charged that American special forces ordered Libyan guerrilla fighters to kill Moammar Gadhafi, the Libyan leader. A Pentagon spokesman in Iraq dismissed the charge as ‘ludicrous,’ saying there were no American boots on the ground during Libya’s civil war.

Speaking on the day that the United States formally ended its war role in Iraq, Putin said “American society no longer wants to be a world gendarme.”

Judging by Twitter and Facebook reactions, Russia’s internet generation did not like the prime minister's call-in show. While he spoke, the number of people pledging on a Facebook page to attend the next major rally steadily increased, hitting 22,000.

Thursday evening, as Putin’s motorcade raced out of central Moscow, the horn blowing by drivers stuck in traffic seemed louder than usual.

You May Like

Video Analysts: Beijing Parade a 'Bazaar' of Stolen Technology

Show commemorating victory over Japan in World War II involved long, medium and short range missiles, a range of tanks and 200 fighter aircraft More

Bernie Sanders Surge Reflects US Shift on Socialism

Although most analysts say it is unlikely he will get the Democratic nomination, Sanders' campaign opens up questions and issues that are otherwise marginalized More

Video On IS Frontline, Kurdish Fighters Ready for Offensive

Peshmerga soldiers say although they need more heavy artillery, they are poised to take the fight to the Islamic State extremists on their turf More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Drowned Migrant Toddler Photo Triggers European Outragei
X
Henry Ridgwell
September 04, 2015 11:36 AM
The harrowing picture of a drowned three-year-old Syrian boy washed up on a Turkish beach appears to have galvanized Europe’s leaders into doing more to address the refugee crisis. France, Germany and Italy issued a joint call Thursday for compulsory quotas of refugees for all EU states. But there were chaotic scenes in Hungary as police tried to force migrants off a train heading for Austria. Henry Ridgwell has more. And a caution, some of the images in this report may be disturbing.
Video

Video Drowned Migrant Toddler Photo Triggers European Outrage

The harrowing picture of a drowned three-year-old Syrian boy washed up on a Turkish beach appears to have galvanized Europe’s leaders into doing more to address the refugee crisis. France, Germany and Italy issued a joint call Thursday for compulsory quotas of refugees for all EU states. But there were chaotic scenes in Hungary as police tried to force migrants off a train heading for Austria. Henry Ridgwell has more. And a caution, some of the images in this report may be disturbing.
Video

Video Russians Observe 11th Anniversary of Beslan School Attack

This week, Russians have been observing the 11th anniversary of the attack by Islamic militants on a school in Russia's North Caucasus region that killed more than 330 hostages, including 186 children. The three-day siege and massacre that started on September 1, 2004 took place in Beslan, a town in the republic of North Ossetia, and is one of the bloodiest terrorist acts ever in Russia. VOA's Mike Richman reports.
Video

Video Native Americans Debate: Father Serra, Saint or Sinner?

Pope Francis will canonize an 18th century missionary to Spanish California during a papal visit to the United States this month.  But some Native Americans have criticized the elevation to sainthood of the missionary priest, Junipero Serra. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan has more from Los Angeles.
Video

Video Calais School Offers Another Face of Europe’s Migrant Crisis

Europe is facing mounting criticism over how it’s handling its biggest migration crisis since World War II. But not all Europeans believe building walls or passing repressive policies are the answer. A school for migrants in the French port city of Calais, is opening doors and building bonds across nationalities. VOA's Lisa Bryant reports.
Video

Video Kurdish Fighters on IS Frontline Ready for Offensive

Finger on the trigger, the Kurdish Peshmerga soldier stared across the dust at a village taken over by Islamic State extremists. The Kurdistan’s Khazir frontline, just 45 minutes from the Islamic State stronghold of Mosul. And at this point, the militants were less than two kilometers away. VOA's Sharon Behn reports.
Video

Video China Announces Troop Cuts at WWII Parade

Chinese President Xi Jinping Thursday announced plans to cut the world’s largest military force by 300,000 troops. The announcement was made during a massive military parade to commemorate victory over Japan in World War II. The event was shunned by most Western leaders and for some is raising fresh concerns about China’s military ambitions. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video Russia-Japan Relations Cool as Putin Visits China for WWII Anniversary

Russian President Vladimir Putin is in Beijing for commemorations of the 70th anniversary of China's WWII victory over Japan. Putin is expected to visit Japan later this year, but tensions between Tokyo and Moscow over islands disputed since the war, and sanctions over Ukraine, could pour cold water on the plan. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Yemen ‘on Brink of Disaster’ as Medical Shortages Soar

Aid agencies warn Yemen is on the brink of humanitarian disaster – with up to half a million children facing severe malnutrition, and hospitals running out of basic medicines. There are fears Yemen's civil war could escalate as the coalition led by Saudi Arabia tries to drive back Houthi rebels, who seized control of much of the country earlier this year. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Apps Helping Kenyan Businesses Stay Ahead of Counterfeiters

Counterfeit goods in Kenya cost the government as much as $1 billion each year in lost tax revenues. The fake goods also hurt entrepreneurs who find it hard to carve out a niche in the market and retain customers. But as Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi, information technology is being used to try to beat the problem.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.

VOA Blogs