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Putin Claims US Is Meddling In Russian Vote

From an approving Reuters:

Russian President Vladimir Putin (2nd L) speaks during a meeting with supporters in St.Petersburg November 26, 2007.

Putin accuses U.S. of meddling in Russia vote

By Oleg Shchedrov

ST PETERSBURG, Russia (Reuters) – President Vladimir Putin accused Washington on Monday of plotting to undermine December parliamentary elections seen widely as a demonstration of his enduring power in Russia.

Putin, drawing on resurgent nationalist sentiment ahead of Sunday’s poll, also said Russia must keep its defences strong to discourage others from “poking their snotty noses” in its affairs.

Europe, however, joined the United States in voicing concern over a weekend police crackdown on protests by an opposition that says it has been banished from the airwaves and from the streets by an overbearing Kremlin. Authorities portray the small groupings as western-backed remnants of the chaotic 1990s.

Putin, who must step down as president early next year, said he saw Washington’s hand in a decision by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe’s ODIHR monitoring arm to abandon plans to observe the poll.

We have information that, once again, this was done on the recommendation of the U.S. State Department,” Putin said at a meeting with activists of his United Russia party.

Actions such as these cannot wreck the elections in Russia. Their aim is to deprive the elections of legitimacy, that is absolutely clear. But they are not going to achieve that,” he said in his home city of St Petersburg.

A poll published on Monday by Russia’s FOM pollster predicted United Russia would win 60.1 percent in the vote this weekend, a dip of two percent from the previous week. The poll put nearest rivals the Communist Party at 7.5 percent…

Two weekend rallies by a coalition of anti-Putin groups were broken up by police using truncheons. Former chess champion Garry Kasparov, one of the coalition’s leaders, was one of dozens of people arrested…

Putin is running in the election as No. 1 on United Russia’s slate of candidates…

The ODIHR observation team pulled out of their mission to Russia citing obstruction by Russian authorities. A spokeswoman for the body said Putin’s comment about U.S. influence on the decision was “simply not true.”

Mr. Putin is not just a dictator thug.

He is a paranoid dictator thug.

Here is write-up of this weekend’s crackdowns, also via Reuters:

Riot police detain a protester during an opposition march in St Petersburg November 25, 2007.

Russian police round up anti-Putin protesters

Mon Nov 26, 2007

By Denis Pinchuk

ST PETERSBURG, Russia (Reuters) – Russian riot police beat opposition activists on Sunday and detained nearly 200 people at protest rallies against President Vladimir Putin a week before the country’s parliamentary election.

Riot police in St Petersburg, Russia’s second city and Putin’s home town, detained Boris Nemtsov and Nikita Belykh, leaders of the Union of Right Forces (SPS) party who are both running in the Dec. 2 election. They were later released.

The protests came a day after police detained opposition leader and former world chess champion Garry Kasparov in Moscow — a move the United States condemned on Sunday as part of “aggressive tactics” by authorities…

In St Petersburg, this correspondent saw riot police beating activists with batons and their fists before forcing them into police buses.

Dozens more were detained outside the Winter Palace, the residence of the Tsars, and at another rally in the city centre.

“They have forbidden us from discussing Putin,” Nemtsov told the crowd. “But we have come here today to ask Mr Putin and the authorities why is there so much corruption in the country?”

He was promptly detained by five riot policemen as the crowd chanted “Russia without Putin”.

Nemtsov told Reuters his detention was a breach of Russian law which forbids police from detaining candidates.

“Putin has total disregard for the country’s constitution and laws,” Nemtsov said. “He is afraid the people will find out the truth and so he hides behind the riot police.”

About 500 activists made it to the marches but were vastly outnumbered by riot police. Most of those detained were later released, organisers said.

The city authorities had not given permission for the march and streets in the city centre were blocked by riot police and snow-clearing trucks…

Putin’s opponents accuse the Kremlin chief of cracking down on the freedoms won after the 1991 fall of the Soviet Union and of creating what they say is an unstable political system dependent on Putin alone.

“They have started a war with the people,” Tamara, 72, who took part in the march.

“Putin is very bad — look at the poverty in the country. Pensioners are forced to rummage in the dustbins.” …

“We are ruled by the United Russia gang. They have taken away the elections,” said Lyubov Chilipenko at the march.

Where is the UN?

Where is the ACLU?

(Thanks to Amy for the heads up.)

This article was posted by Steve on Monday, November 26th, 2007. Comments are currently closed.

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