Kasyanov: Putin Will Not Be a Dictator




Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov laughed off suggestions over the weekend that President Vladimir Putin was an authoritarian leader and said the country needs a strong government to overcome its problems.


Putin's plans to tighten the Kremlin's grip on the country and use of his favorite phrase "the dictatorship of the law" have been taken by some commentators as a sign that the former KGB spy aims to take on dictatorial powers.


Kasyanov, as Putin has done himself, denied such suggestions, saying Russia would continue on a market-oriented, democratic path.


"There is no sign that authoritarianism prevails in our country," Kasyanov said Saturday on ORT television.


"When we speak about strengthening power in the country, it is completely different. Our life and the problems we have lived through show that the system of government should be improved."


Putin has said he hopes only to improve the way the country is run. One of the president's main wishes is to cultivate accord among the two houses of parliament and the Kremlin - a policy threatened by a recent veto in the Federation Council of his bill to strip the governors of their seats in the upper house.


Kasyanov shrugged off the veto, saying cooperation would continue.


"Today we live in a rather favorable situation when we find that we have a constructive dialogue with the Duma and the Federation Council," said Kasyanov.


He said cooperation between the different decision-making bodies also would help improve the economy, which has been given a boost from high prices for oil and other commodities.


"Only half of the positive changes are due to the favorable situation on the world market," Kasyanov said. "The other half is linked to fundamental changes in the structure of our economy. ... This growth will solve our deep problems."