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Putin Slams Clinton For Encouraging Protesters | Fox News

Published December 08, 2011 | Associated Press

MOSCOW -- Prime Minister Vladimir Putin strongly criticized U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton on Thursday, accusing her of encouraging and funding Russians protesting election fraud, and warned of a wider Russian crackdown on dissent.

By describing Russia's parliamentary election as rigged, Putin said Clinton "gave a signal" to his opponents.

"They heard this signal and with the support of the U.S. State Department began their active work," Putin said in televised remarks. He said the United States is spending "hundreds of millions" of dollars to influence Russian politics with the aim of weakening a rival nuclear power.
Putin's tough words show the deep cracks in U.S.-Russian ties despite President Barack

Obama's efforts to "reset" relations with the Kremlin. Ahead of the election, Putin threatened to deploy missiles to target the U.S. missile shield in Europe if Washington failed to assuage Moscow's concerns about its plans.

Clinton has repeatedly criticized Sunday's parliamentary vote in Russia, saying "Russian voters deserve a full investigation of electoral fraud and manipulation."

Russian protesters have taken to the streets in Moscow and St. Petersburg for three straight nights despite a heavy police presence, outraged over observers' reports of widespread ballot box stuffing and manipulations of the vote count. This week has seen some of the biggest and most sustained protests Russia has faced in years, and police have detained hundreds of protesters.

Thousands were expected to join protests in Moscow and other cities on Saturday.
Putin's United Russia party barely held onto its majority in parliament, with official results giving it about 50 percent of the vote, down from 64 percent four years ago. But the fraud allegations indicate that support for United Russia was even lower than that, and Russians appear to be growing weary of Putin and his party after nearly 12 years in office.

Putin was president from 2000 until 2008, when he moved into the prime minister's office to abide by a constitutional limit on two consecutive terms. He intends to reclaim the presidency after an election in March that would give him at least six more years in power.

Putin's return to the Kremlin still seems assured, but he clearly has been shaken by the outburst of public anger and it is not yet clear how much of a challenge it will pose to his power.
Moscow has already put about 50,000 police and 2,000 paramilitary troops on the streets, backed by water cannon.

Putin warned that the government might take an even harder line against those who try to influence Russia's political process on behalf of a foreign government.

He accused the U.S. State Department of spending "hundreds of millions" of dollars in Russia and his government has to "work out ways to protect our sovereignty from outside interference."

"We are the largest nuclear power," Putin said, addressing supporters during a televised meeting.

"And our partners have certain concerns and shake us so that we don't forget who is the master of this planet, so that we remain obedient and feel that they have leverage to influence us within our own country."

He said "especially unacceptable is the infusion of foreign money into the electoral process."
Russia's only independent election monitoring group, which is supported by grants from the United States and European governments, has come under heavy official pressure in recent weeks. The Golos website documenting violations was hacked and the group was fined the equivalent of $1,000 after prosecutors accused it of violating election law.

Also Thursday, Russia's top election official urged prosecutors to study photographs and video clips circulating on social networking sites that purport to show election fraud, and signaled that those who posted the materials could be punished.

If the images show genuine violations, they will be investigated, Central Election Commission chief Vladimir Churov said. But if evidence is found that the photographs and videos were "provocations" or faked, those who created, commissioned or sponsored them will be held to account, he said.

Opposition groups have called for a mass protest near the Kremlin on Saturday. More than 28,000 people have now signed up to a Facebook page on the protest.

A map circulating on the Internet shows protests planned for Saturday in more than 75 cities around Russia, while a page on LiveJournal lists more planned anti-vote fraud protests in 15 countries around the world.

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Russian Vote Wrath Swells Protests as Putin Blames Clinton

Russian Vote Wrath Swells Protests as Putin Blames Clinton - Businessweek

December 09, 2011, 8:54 AM EST

Dec. 9 (Bloomberg) -- Russian anger over fraud allegations in last week’s parliamentary election may swell a demonstration challenging the vote and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin’s plan to return as president to the biggest in Moscow in a decade.

Organizers expect more than 20,000 people to gather tomorrow in central Moscow, where officials approved a rally for 30,000 after first limiting the number to 300. As many as 10,000 people protested in the Chistiye Prudy neighborhood after international observers said there was evidence of ballot-box stuffing in the Dec. 4 vote, according to Solidarity, the opposition group organizing the rallies.

The ruble has dropped for seven days and Russia’s credit risk has risen the most among emerging markets since the protests started, threatening to weaken Putin’s bid to return to the Kremlin in the presidential contest in March. Putin said yesterday that the protesters had been emboldened by criticism of the vote by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

“People did not expect that their voting rights would be trampled on in such a rude, cynical and brazen manner,” said Dmitry Oreshkin, an independent political analyst in Moscow. “This rally is a signal that the authorities don’t control the situation. People don’t have other legal means to contest the election results.”

Ruble, Default Swaps

The ruble fell for a seventh day, its longest losing streak in almost three years, dropping 0.2 percent to 31.4190 per dollar at 3:53 p.m. in Moscow. The Micex Index of 30 stocks was down 2.8 percent at 1,416.13, heading for the lowest close since Nov. 25.

Russian credit-default swaps, which are used to insure against the risk of sovereign default, have been the worst performers this week among 20 emerging markets tracked by Bloomberg, rising another 6 basis points, or 0.06 percentage point, to 261 today, according to data provider CMA, which is owned by CME Group Inc. and compiles prices quoted by dealers.

“The market is only now starting to price in the return of top-level political risk for the first time in 12 years,” Kingsmill Bond and Andrey Kuznetsov, analysts at Citigroup in Moscow, wrote today in an e-mailed note. “We are likely to see continued downward pressure on the market as those investors not prepared for this or not willing to stomach the risk, exit the market.”

Voting Violations

United Russia won about 49.3 percent of the vote for the State Duma, the lower house of parliament on Dec. 4, down from 64.3 percent in the 2007 election. The Communist Party won about 19.2 percent, compared with 11.6 percent four years earlier. The U.S., Germany and the European Union have criticized violations during the vote.

Clinton on Dec. 6 cited a report by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe when discussing allegations that the election was marred by fraud. The comments “sent a signal” to activists, Putin said yesterday.

“People should have the opportunity to express their opinions, that’s normal,” President Dmitry Medvedev said yesterday in the Czech Republic. “Protests are a sign of democracy, but all protests should be held strictly in designated areas and strictly in accordance with Russian law.”

Uneven Access

The ruling party, which lost a two-thirds majority that let it alter the constitution unilaterally, benefited from uneven access to state resources and the media before the vote, the OSCE said Dec. 5. Observers also saw evidence of ballot-box stuffing and other irregularities at the polls, it said.

Moscow Election Commission spokesman Yuriy Chabanov didn’t reply to a faxed request for comment and wasn’t available on his landline phone number later yesterday.

“The city electoral commission doesn’t have a single complaint,” Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin, Putin’s former chief of staff, said in an interview on Dec. 7. “Naturally, there is some percentage of polling stations where some violations took place. They all have to be looked into.”

Russia is continuing to improve its business climate and the protests shouldn’t be overestimated, Dmitry Peskov, Putin’s spokesman, said in a telephone interview today.

“I absolutely disagree with the opinion that some demonstrations by some groups of people can impact the business climate,” he said. “The situation is absolutely stable and predictable.”

Protesters, Troops

Thousands of people took to Moscow streets in the two days after the vote to protest election results. Police said they also detained about 90 people at unsanctioned demonstrations on Dec. 7 in the capital and St. Petersburg, Russia’s second- largest city. About 300 people were detained in Moscow in each of the previous two evenings.

About 2,000 servicemen and 2,000 police officers were on duty as part of security measures that started Dec. 4, according to Moscow police. Information on security for tomorrow’s rally will be available after 10 p.m. tonight, the police press service said.

“We are planning a peaceful rally to demonstrate our attitude toward dishonest elections,” Olga Shorina, a spokeswoman for Solidarity, said in a telephone interview yesterday. “We are not planning to do anything unconstitutional.”

Solidarity won approval for the greater turnout after agreeing to move its event from Revolution Square to the smaller Bolotnaya Square, the mayor’s office said today in a statement. The protest is scheduled to begin at 2 p.m. and last four hours.

More than 20,000 people may turn up, Mikhail Moglov, another spokesman for Solidarity, said yesterday. That would make the event the biggest protest in 10 years, he added.


A page on the social networking site Facebook Inc. registered more than 34,000 people who said they would attend tomorrow’s rally and at least 10,000 who said they may. Organizers called on people who wanted to attend to wear white ribbons and carry flowers or balloons.

“The people who showed up at Chistiye Prudy and the ones who are on Facebook writing that they’ll come -- they had been counting on Medvedev,” said Evgeny Gontmakher, an economist at the Institute of Contemporary Development in Moscow. “Sept. 24 was a huge disappointment.”

While the demonstrations are “clearly” the biggest ever against Putin, they are “nowhere near” the size of rallies that toppled governments in the Middle East this year, Neil Shearing, senior emerging-market analyst at Capital Economics in London, said yesterday in a telephone interview.

“I don’t think we will see anything like the Arab spring,” Oreshkin said. “No one is in a rush to machine-gun fire.”
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