Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has rejected calls for a review of the December 4 parliamentary elections. Opposition leaders and other observers have accused Putin of tampering with the vote, claims which he denies.
Putin's United Russia party lost a number of seats in the lower house of Russia's parliament, but still managed to come away with a majority in the poll.
The elections are over. The parliament has started its work and a speaker elected. The State Duma is working... There can be no talk of any review, Putin said. There is only one way prescribed by law - an appeal to court.
Putin's comments come on the heels of the the largest protests in Russia since before the fall of the Soviet Union. Tens of thousands of people have gathered in Moscow to rally against the Prime Minister and against the Kremlin, demanding a re-run of the December vote and Putin's resignation, among other things.
Similar to the popular criticism waged against the Occupy Movement, Putin has blasted the protests as a leaderless and futile exercise that is more about complaining than action.
They have no united program, clear ways of reaching their aims -- which are themselves not clear -- or people who could achieve something concrete, Putin said at an All-Russian Popular Front meeting on Tuesday.
I have difficulty imagining who from their ranks could do concrete work for the development of our state.
Since becoming president of Russia in 1999, Putin has enjoyed an untouchable job security, but the protests cast doubt over the upcoming March presidential elections, when the Prime Minister will again run for Russia's head office.
But despite the unrest, Putin is apparently regaining some support, at least from within his government. Former finance minister Alexei Kudrin, who stepped down from his position in September because of a budgetary disagreement with Medvedev, has appointed himself the mediator between the Kremlin and the opposition.
Kudrin has been mentioned as a possible challenger to Putin and he spoke at the protests on Saturday, but he met with Putin later that night to open an urgent dialogue.
I understood that he was not afraid of the March 4 elections. He is ready to take all the measures necessary to make sure these elections are fair, Kudrin told RIA Novosti.
“The proposals made at the meeting are my own of my own initiative, addressed to both sides [opposition and government]…I made up my own mind about participation in the rally and did not consult with anybody,” Kudrin added.