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
TEXT SIZE - +

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.


James Brooke

A foreign correspondent who has reported from five continents, Brooke, known universally as Jim, is the Voice of America bureau chief for Russia and former Soviet Union countries. From his base in Moscow, Jim roams Russia and Russia’s southern neighbors.

You May Like

Multimedia Relatives of South Korean Ferry Victims Fire at Authorities

36 people are confirmed dead, but some 270 remain trapped on board More

War Legacy Haunts Vietnam, US Relations

$84 million project aims to clean up soil contaminated by Agent Orange More

Wikipedia Proves Useful for Tracking Flu

Technique gave better results than Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Google’s Flu Trends 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.
Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politicsi
X
Michael Eckels
April 19, 2014
There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politics

There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Face of American Farmer is Changing

The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Donetsk Governor: Ukraine Military Assault 'Delicate But Necessary'

Around a dozen state buildings in eastern Ukraine remain in the hands of pro-Russian protesters who are demanding a referendum on self-rule. The governor of the whole Donetsk region is among those forced out by the protesters. He spoke to VOA's Henry Ridgwell from his temporary new office in Donetsk city.
Video

Video Drones May Soon Send Data From High Seas

Drones are usually associated with unmanned flying vehicles, but autonomous watercraft are also becoming useful tools for jobs ranging from scientific exploration to law enforcement to searching for a missing airliner in the Indian Ocean. VOA’s George Putic reports on sea-faring drones.
Video

Video New Earth-Size Planet Found

Not too big, not too small. Not too hot, not too cold. A newly discovered planet looks just right for life as we know it, according to an international group of astronomers. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Copts in Diaspora Worry About Future in Egypt

Around 10 percent of Egypt’s population belong to the Coptic faith, making them the largest Christian minority in the Middle East. But they have become targets of violence since the revolution three years ago. With elections scheduled for May and the struggle between the Egyptian military and Islamists continuing, many Copts abroad are deeply worried about the future of their ancient church. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky visited a Coptic church outside Washington DC.
Video

Video Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support

During the two months of deadly anti-government protests that have rocked the oil-rich nation of Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro has accused the opposition of trying to initiate a coup. Though a small number of military officers have been arrested for allegedly plotting against the government, VOA’s Brian Padden reports the leadership of the armed forces continues to support the president, at least for now.
Video

Video More Millenials Unplug to Embrace Board Games

A big new trend in the U.S. toy industry has more consumers switching off their high-tech gadgets to play with classic toys, like board games. This is especially true among the so-called millenial generation - those born in the 1980's and 90's. Elizabeth Lee has more from an unusual café in Los Angeles, where the new trend is popular and business is booming.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
AppleAndroid