Putin On the Evil West

MOSCOW, Nov. 21-
Russian President Vladimir Putin called on supporters to vote for the United Russia party, in the December 2nd State Duma elections, and criticized opponents and street demonstrations.

Putin, who is heading the electoral ticket of the party (while not actually being a member of the party), announced that United Russia needs to seize a majority in order to prevent the Parliament from becoming a “roundup of populists.” “The vote on Dec. 2 will to large extent determine the fate of the country. By all means, come to the polls and vote for United Russia,” Putin said.

Addressing a forum of some 5,000 supporters, the president added that among some of the Duma candidates, and United Russia opponents in particular, there are those who would love to restore the regime of the oligarchs. “They want to take revenge, return to power and the sphere of influence, and progressively restore an oligarchic regime, based on corruption and lies,” Putin said. Referring to opposition protests in Russia and the “color revolutions” that took place in Ukraine and Georgia, he continued: “They aren’t going to do anything to anyone. Even now, they’re going to take to the streets. They have learned from Western experts and have received some training in neighboring republics. And now they are going to attempt provocations here.”

It is expected that Putin will announce his intentions to stay for a third term. Stanislav Belkovskiy, a political analyst, believes that Putin will step down shortly before the end of his current term, and then run again in the spring 2008 election. Technically, this would not contradict the letter of the Constitution. This view is also held by Sergei Mironov, leader of the “Just Russia” party, although Putin has a penchant for surprise decisions and unexpected moves, which has made his plans a guessing game.

The All-Russia forum where Putin spoke brought together around 5000 supporters, representing United Russia, the “Young Guard” and “Nashi” youth wings, and the new “For Putin” movement.

The gala was held in a massive sports arena, and featured performances by prominent musicians. The lineup included girl-group “Singing Together,” who riled the crowd with their hit song, “I want someone like Putin.”