No dialogue with 'street opposition'?
In the wake of the largest rally in decades urging political reforms, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said he does not intend to engage in dialogue with street opposition, which is scattered and slants towards extremism.
"Is there a common platform there? There is none,” Putin told journalists on Wednesday, speaking about the huge opposition rally that took place on December 24 in Moscow.Putin added he had always held dialogue with opposition bodies, but now, “With whom can you talk? It seems like it's necessary to talk with everyone about their claims and their problems."However, Putin underlined, he is not opposed to having a dialogue with the opposition – he is just opposed to a “display of extremism.”On December 24, former finance minister and Putin’s long-time ally Aleksey Kudrin attended the opposition rally in person, and there had been speculation in the media as to whether it was on Putin’s initiative. However, Vladimir Putin said that he did not send Kudrin to the rally."I didn't send him. He went himself. He is a big boy," he said.Earlier Kudrin expressed the view that he could become a possible mediator between protesters and the government.In an unexpected confession, Putin acknowledged that sometimes he wished to join a rally. "When I see what is happening, with my acquaintances and relatives telling me how they communicate with officials, I sometimes want to [take part in a rally]," he said.
Medvedev’s possible early departure
Russia’s PM said he had not discussed with President Dmitry Medvedev as to whether Putin would assume the role of acting president before the presidential poll in March. The scenario of Medvedev’s earlier resignation was not on the table, he said.“We will consider it if there are recommendations, but right now this is not necessary,” Putin added with a smile. The PM’s chances of taking pre-election leave to participate in the debates are quite slim. Putin cited his workload and frowned at the debate opponents. "It's not a matter of being afraid, it's because the opposition does not carry the burden of concrete work. It sometimes demands the impossible, and then, as a rule, does not keep any promises. A dialogue is necessary, but we'll think about what form it should take," Putin said.When asked what "surprise" or "New Year’s" gift he would give Russia, Putin answered: "Fair presidential elections in 2012."