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

Ukraine Purges Interior Ministry Leadership With Pro-Russian Ties

Interior Minister Avakov says 91 people 'in positions of leadership' have been fired, including 8 generals found to have links to past pro-Moscow governments More

US Airlines Point to Additional Problems of any Ebola Travel Ban

Airline officials note that even under travel ban, they may not be able to determine where passenger set out from, as there are no direct flights from Liberia, Guinea or Sierra Leone More

Nigerian President to Seek Another Term

Goodluck Jonathan has faced intense criticism for failing to stop Boko Haram militants 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.
Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
October 25, 2014 4:21 PM
Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukraine

Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.

All About America

AppleAndroid