Russians don’t want revolutions – Putin
Vladimir Putin said he did not see the string of protests that took place in Russian cities a year ago as something unusual. “Any country sees a surge in public activity in the course of election campaigns, including the protest activity,” Putin observed, adding that in Russia the protests reached their apex around the last parliamentary elections. He also noted that even his harshest critics had to admit that the latest presidential poll was won in the first round and the discussions were being held over the percentage of votes, not on the elections result.Besides, Putin said that in his view the current decline in protest activities was not connected with the “tightening of the screws” as all Russian citizens still have the right and opportunity to express their opinions and defend them through legal means. Putin said he was sure that the overwhelming majority of Russian citizens did not want revolution, but simply wanted a better life as fast as possible. “I often travel across the country, I know the people,” the president added. Besides, the Russian leader noted that the people think countries that underwent soft transitions are much more attractive than those that had revolutions. Putin added that revolution could not end the turmoil and saw the complete collapse of the economy and social structure. “Many ordinary citizens” in Russia believe that in case things go wrong, leaders of the protest movement would jump on an aircraft and flee, while “we will live here,” Putin stated. “No one wants this,” he told his guests.The President added that, to his knowledge, the Russian protest leaders share such an attitude as “they are smart people.” He expressed hope that they will work with the new opportunities opened up following the adoption of new laws. Trustees invited to work for Popular FrontThe people Putin spoke to on Monday were official trustees – a group of activists who supported his candidacy during the presidential race. It unites over 550 people from different regions and includes well-known artists, journalists, and members of public organizations, intelligentsia and sportsmen. “It’s good that there are over 500 people with different political views as it will give a chance to look at problems from different angles,” the President said.He observed that many ideas and proposals voiced by the trustees were reflected in his campaign articles and, also, decrees signed after he returned to the Kremlin. Putin suggested his supporters meet at least a couple of times a year, which is rather a novelty since earlier the institution of trustees only acted during election campaigns. “It will give both you and me an opportunity to see what is being done and what is really happening in the country, what results we achieve and what is still not done and why,” Putin pointed out.President Putin also invited his trustees to participate in the work of his brain-child, the Popular Front movement, which was created last year. The Front includes representatives of various political parties, trade unions, youth organizations and people who are determined to the idea “to strengthen Russia” and find the most optimal possibilities of solving current problems. The President noted that his trustees could contribute to the Front’s work in various fields such as science, art, education, or the military reform. Recent corruption cases not short-lived campaignWhen one of Putin’s supporters asked the President when those complicit in the recently uncovered corruption schemes will be serving time, he answered that the criminals should of course receive jail sentences and this is often happening now, but the most important thing is inevitability of punishment. The President added that the current measures were not a one-time campaign and stressed that the struggle against corruption must take place not only on the top poser levels, but also in everyday life. “We should fight it not only in the upper echelons, in the Defense Ministry, but also in the streets where, sometimes, some persons from certain structures are extorting money and in social spheres the extortion is also taking place,” Putin noted. Besides, the Russian President reminded his supporters that the fight against corruption is always difficult during transition periods when the exact demands to the market are not yet determined.He stressed that corruption cases should be addressed harshly and sequentially, but no rush is acceptable. If courts deliver their verdict without enough evidence, but “just because we are confident that a person committed a crime, we will go back to the year 1937,” Putin noted. 1937 is seen as a symbol of the repressions carried out in the USSR by the Joseph Stalin government.The law enforcement agencies must always act within the legal framework, the President underlined.