Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has boasted of his support among Russians and continued his verbal attacks against the United States, ahead of Presidential elections on Sunday, a contest he is almost certain to win.
In a bid to put a positive spin on a series of demonstrations held against his all-but -assured victory, he told an audience of western newspaper editors that they were a good experience for Russia.
That situation has helped make government structures more capable, has raised the need for them to think, search for solutions and communicate with the society, the Associated Press reported Putin as saying.
The former KGB agent spoke of how he was favored by a majority of Russians, with recent polls putting his popularity at around 60 percent.
Shrugging off accusations of widespread voter fraud in December's parliamentary elections, Putin promised to engage with demonstrators but rejected their demands to hold a re-run of the poll.
In an address broadcast Friday night on state Channel One television, the Prime Minister talked up the levels of popular support he enjoyed in the country.
The wide support of an overwhelming majority of citizens in a most difficult period helped in the fight against terrorism, restoration of the territorial integrity of the country, in the economic and social spheres and in overcoming the consequences of the world economic crisis, he said, according to AP.
In September Putin agreed to swap roles with the current Presidential incumbent Dmitry Medvedev, a move which angered many Russians.
Putin, who served as president from 2000 to 2008, did not seek re-election due to Russia's two-year term limit.
But with the country's presidential term now having been increased from four to six years, a triumph on Sunday will make him eligible to serve another 12 years in Russia's highest office.
Continuing his attacks on U.S. foreign policy, the self-styled strong-man said Friday how NATO's proposed European missile shield was an affront to the Russian nuclear deterrent and would undermine global stability.
When one party gets an illusion that it's invulnerable for a retaliatory strike by another, that stokes up conflicts and aggressive behavior, the UK's Guardian Newspaper quoted him as saying.
We consider that extremely dangerous.