Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin accused the opposition movement yesterday of focusing too much on personalities and failing to discuss ideas head of March 4 presidential polls.
Putin published a broad economic manifesto on his Putin2012.ru election Web site titled “Russia is concentrating: the challenges we must answer” in which he vowed to eliminate poverty and focus on social concerns if elected to a third term.
However, he opened the article by addressing the waves of protests that followed disputed parliamentary elections last month and have turned into the biggest challenge of his dominant 12-year rule.
“Today, there is a lot of talk about various forms of political renewal,” Putin wrote. “But what are they proposing that we agree about? About ways of setting up rule? Of transferring it to the ‘best people?’ And what happens next? What are we actually going to do?”
The article also ran in the Izvestia daily and represented what state media said was the first in a series of policy addresses that Putin is planning to publish in the Russian press.
Russia’s largest protests in nearly two decades originally came in response to a Dec. 4 election to the State Duma lower house of parliament in which the ruling party clung on to a narrow majority with the alleged help of fraud.
However, their focus has increasingly turned to criticism of Putin himself and one of the main calls at a new rally set for Feb. 4 — exactly one month before the vote — states simply: “How long are you going to trust Putin’s promises?”
Putin accused the fractured opposition movement of personalizing politics to the detriment of Russian voters.
“What concerns me is that we are having almost no discussions about what we have to do outside the election frameworks, after the elections,” Putin said. “I think that Russian citizens should have the opportunity to not only discuss the merits and shortcomings of politicians, which is not a bad thing in and of itself, but also the actual contents of policies, the programs that specific politicians intend to implement.”