Putin Offers to Talk to Protesters

Kremlin spokesman dismisses talk of a crisis
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 27, 2011 4:37 AM CST
Updated Dec 27, 2011 6:29 AM CST
Putin Offers to Talk to Protesters
Opposition leader Alexei Navalny speaks during a December 24 rally in Moscow.   (AP Photo/Misha Japaridze)

After the biggest protests since the collapse of the Soviet Union, the Kremlin says it is willing to talk to protesters—but not to give ground on their main demands. A spokesman for Vladimir Putin says the prime minister is ready for "dialogue," but insists that Putin is still a lot more popular than the opposition, the Wall Street Journal reports. "There are people who are genuinely discontented," the spokesman admits. "But it's not a crisis, absolutely not."

Putin himself accuses the protesters—who have begun to call for his resignation—of lacking goals and leaders. "The problem is that they have no single program," he told his All-Russia People's Front. "They have many individual programs, but no unified one and no clear way to reach their goals, which are also not clear." One of the most prominent anti-Putin activists, anti-corruption crusader Alexei Navalny, says he is willing to challenge Putin for the presidency if it is possible to hold a fair election. (Read more Vladimir Putin stories.)

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