Russian opposition MPs snub Putin with walkout

Russia's President-elect Vladimir Putin, 11 Apr 12 Vladimir Putin is about to start a new six-year term as president

A Russian opposition party has walked out of parliament after a speech by President-elect Vladimir Putin which called for political unity.

The walkout by A Just Russia came after Mr Putin said Oleg Shein, the party's mayoral candidate in the city of Astrakhan, should have gone to court instead of launching a hunger strike.

Mr Shein, who lost in the 4 March elections, alleges electoral fraud.

It is the first time a whole party has walked out while Mr Putin was speaking.

The protest by nearly all the party's 64 MPs came during a question-and-answer session in the lower house (Duma).

In his speech earlier Mr Putin admitted the presidential election had left some "echoes of heightened emotions".

He served as president in 2000-2008 and will be sworn in for a third term - this time for six years - on 7 May.

Mr Shein's cause has been taken up by Russian opposition activists including the influential anti-corruption blogger Alexei Navalny.

Mr Putin answered a question from A Just Russia with the words: "As far as I know, your colleague Oleg Shein has started a hunger strike but did not appeal to court. This is a bit strange. Why go on hunger strike?"

"Maybe the court will sort it out and everybody will agree with the outcome. It seems to me that they have to go to court."

A Just Russia argues that the Astrakhan courts cannot be trusted to investigate the electoral fraud allegations fairly. Mayoral elections were held on the same day as the presidential election.

Mr Putin's election was also overshadowed by allegations of widespread fraud. Independent election monitors - both Russian and international - complained of irregularities.

Appeal for unity

In his last speech to parliament as prime minister Mr Putin said "the logic of mature democracy is that elections finish and... joint work always begins."

"We have one Russia, and its modern, advanced development must be the goal that unites all the country's political forces that want to work to build it," Mr Putin said in the televised speech on Wednesday.

He also said the growth in Russia's population was a positive sign.

Russia's population was growing again after years of decline, he said, and was now above 140 million. This year Russia will have 15 cities each with more than a million people, he added.

And he said more Russian couples were choosing to have a second or even a third child.

But he voiced concern about the income gap between rich and poor in Russia.

"The gap is not closing, and we need to pay great attention to that."

In Germany and France the richest are five to seven times better off, whereas in Russia the figure is 15 times, like in the US, he said.

Despite the "colossal challenge" of the 2007-08 global financial crisis, average incomes had risen in Russia, Mr Putin said.

He called the global turmoil "far more large-scale and far more dangerous than the 1998 crisis", but said Russians "showed that we are a mature, creative, confident nation with inner vital strength".


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  • rate this

    Comment number 68.

    The walkout of friendly to Putin party shows public disgust to his lawlessness, dishonesty & demagoguery. Those who refers to Putin’s courts don’t know a thing about them. His regime stole handsomely from 1.5 trillion $ for selling off natural resources. Russia got gagged, dying out with crumbling apart highways, infrastructure, miserable healthcare, public education & science.

  • rate this

    Comment number 67.

    " him throwing all the realistic politivcal opponents in jail"

    Who are "all the realistic politivcal opponents in jail"? I know there is One non Russian Russian who miraculously obtained 5% of the world's oil reserves for the price of one of Donald Trump's houses

    you have to admit, though, there was something off about the whole election. but since im not russian i cant do anything about it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 66.

    Well Giltedged, you will hopefully understand Political Freedom =/= Economic Prosperity. Both Political systems have little to do with the actual economy.

    That said I'm one of the Western Putin fan-boys. His story is inspiring, guiding the rebirth of a once great nation. I for one think Russians can think of themselves as something more than just another country, thanks to Putin!

  • rate this

    Comment number 65.

    I am confused. The US is a democracy, which means that you have to have, or have friends who have, hundreds of millions of dollars before you can dream of running for election as President. The US will have meagre, if any growth for the past three years .And China with no democracy at all have averaged double digit growth per year these past 25 years.

    Which system should Russia adopt?

  • Comment number 64.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 63.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 62.

    democracythrea, you are right better to right nothing at all ... at least in your case. am wondering if it is safe to right anything against putin where-ever you live. Save face, pitiful ... hmmm yes I see where you are coming from.
    Is it really better to do nothing, which ever nationality you are. It is what they want. NO IT IS NOT.

  • rate this

    Comment number 61.

    In the US, it is sad what our government has become. With the Patriot Act, we have lost our most basic rights like habeus corpus and just recently the president can have any American "terrorist" arrested and executed by his signature. He becomes judge, jury and executioner. Much like Germany of 1939 fear leads to paranoia and that leads to loss of freedoms. Our founding fathers have turned over..

  • rate this

    Comment number 60.

    I think most of us in the West wish that we had leaders like Putin.

  • rate this

    Comment number 59.

    I live in the US and here you don't have to have signatures to run for office. You just need to apply with our elections board and you had better have hundreds of millions of dollars to run for office and be supported by what we call "SuperPACS" which are essentially groups of powerful businesses that pour tons of money into these funds that their candidates can use at their discretion.

  • rate this

    Comment number 58.

    Did anyone know that this small party existed. And why didn't that blogger stand for election?

  • rate this

    Comment number 57.

    The new vogue for the political opposition is to cry foul and protest when they loose any election. It will be interesting to watch the upcoming French vote....and the US vote. There were 5 presidential candidates in Russia, There will be only 2 in the US. What kind of choice is that? Anyone who can get 2 million sig's can run for Pres in RF, Anyone care to tell me what it takes in the USA?

  • rate this

    Comment number 56.

    The world will be a better place when Putin leaves politics. The world is a frightening place with Putin in power.

  • rate this

    Comment number 55.

    It is so stupid that the Russians want more democrazy than us in the west.

    Just wait for it like we are you spoiled Russian cry baby bears, learn to walk before you start to run.

  • rate this

    Comment number 54.

    This comment has been referred for further consideration.

    Blimey! Is Eric Hobsbawm doing the moderation on this particular HYS?

  • rate this

    Comment number 53.

    Polish independent parliamentary comittee have evidence that the air crash in Smolenski - Russia - with the Polish president Lech Kaczynski ( 10.04.2010 ) was not a simple rash but an assasination .
    Quite on the contrary to the Russian Air Comittee ( MAK ) with Anodina head .

  • rate this

    Comment number 52.

    Although having had my rant, he hasn't matched the absolutism of Stalin so I suppose there is progress. Could be that Russia is simply having it's "Robber Baron" phase or perhaps the dreaded "Capitalist exploitation of the masses" phase or even all of the above. Yes it probably is. Lenin did say that Russia was the last place on earth he wanted to start the workers revolution. He wasn't wrong.

  • rate this

    Comment number 51.

    Putin deserves credit for doing what was necessary to bring Russia back from the brink. Tough job well done.

    Merit fades fast though - the West saved Russia from starvation in 1990 and now gets spit in the face as a thank you.

    Is he man enough to take the next necessary step, to open up politics, or will he remain a paranoid coward behind kangaroo courts and a controlled media? Who knows...

  • Comment number 50.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 49.

    "same everywhere"
    But NOT forever

    In long run, for People & Planet, it's "Democracy or Bust"

    Those who know or think they know Russia might believe that the rule of Putin in some sense 'emulates democracy', but at best such belief probably reflects profound ignorance of the meaning and potential of democracy

    As so many comments imply, 'democracy' is for Equal People, not the cowed


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