MOSCOW – After more than three weeks of public protests over fraud allegations in Russia’s parliamentary elections, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has made clear that he will not accede to one of the principal demands of demonstrators.
There will be no re-vote, he said Tuesday in televised remarks.
“The elections are over … and the Duma (the parliament’s lower house) is functioning,” Putin declared. “All talks about any revision (of the election results) are impossible.”
Putin, who is seeking a return to the presidency in March elections, also lashed out at leaders of the ongoing protests, saying they “display their weakness by resorting to insults.” At a Moscow rally last weekend attended by tens of thousands of protesters, Putin was the main target of often derisive comments by speakers who vowed to drive the former two-term president from power.
“They don’t have a unified program, they don’t have a unified vision of which means to use to achieve their goals, which they have yet to formulate, and they don’t have people,” Putin said. “I can hardly imagine that any of them can do any concrete work to develop our state.”
Yet despite Putin’s tough rhetoric, the Kremlin continues to make concessions to the opposition. On Tuesday, Vladislav Surkov, one of the main targets of the opposition’s anger, was transferred from his key position on the presidential staff to a government post as vice premier in charge of modernization.
Nonetheless, opponents, who charge that the election results in which Putin’s United Russia party received nearly 50 percent of the vote were fraudulent, continued Tuesday to demand his ouster.
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