Putin Says 'Forced' to Repeat Warnings

ReutersPutin arriving Wednesday at a Kremlin meeting with foreign ambassadors.
President Vladimir Putin, who steps down next year, said Wednesday that he would not allow foreign powers to upset Russia's stability in the wake of two crucial polls that will decide the country's future.

Anti-Western rhetoric has been a visible part of Putin's campaign ahead of Dec. 2 parliamentary polls, in which he leads the United Russia party list. Analysts expect a similar pattern in March 2 presidential polls to elect Putin's successor.

"We have done everything to safeguard Russia from internal disturbances and to put it firmly on the track of evolutionary development," Putin told diplomats and senior officials in a speech in the Kremlin.

"And I am forced to repeat myself -- we will not allow this process to be changed from outside," he said.

Putin is not allowed by the Constitution to run for a third consecutive term but has said he wants to maintain political influence after his departure.

His opponents blame the Kremlin for intimidating opposition figures ahead of the polls so United Russia can dominate the next parliament and a handpicked ally can take over the Kremlin.

Putin rejected these suggestions.

"Our political course is clear and invariable," he said. "We follow the path of democratic development."

"We know the value of true democracy and want to conduct elections that are honest, as transparent as possible and open," Putin said. "We are sure this is the way these elections will be."

Analysts say Putin, Russia's most popular politician, faces almost no risk in the transition of power.

But his large role in the polls and zero tolerance of opponents will overshadow their outcome in foreign eyes.

In a keynote speech earlier this year, Putin accused the United States of seeking to dictate its will to the world.

On Wednesday, Putin made clear that this course would not change.

"A moment of truth is coming in global politics. We need to give up the policy of dictatorship and deterrent," he said. "We will move nowhere until we agree on new, clear and mutually acceptable rules for cooperation in international affairs."