St Petersburg: Prime Minister Vladimir Putin urged voters and politicians on Friday to unite behind the government and prevent Russian politics turning into a "circus" after Sunday`s parliamentary election.
Talking to a shipyard worker on the factory floor in St Petersburg, Putin echoed remarks by President Dmitry Medvedev calling for a strong parliament that amounted to an appeal for a big mandate for his and Putin`s United Russia.
Their ruling party is expected to win the election to the State Duma lower house; but Putin and Medvedev have struggled during a lackluster election campaign to prevent its huge majority being cut after signs of weariness with the party.
Putin, seeking to avoid an electoral setback that might take some of the gloss off his plan to return as president next year, said bickering among politicians would undermine the government.
"If people behind their TV screens see how people are fighting, pulling each other`s hair like in some neighboring countries, then we won`t have coherent, effective work," Putin said during the visit to Russia`s second city.
"If people want to see a show then they should go to the circus, theater or the movies," he said before laughing and shaking hands with a shipyard worker dressed in overalls.
Medvedev, who is leading the party in to Sunday`s election and is likely to become premier next year, made clear it would be a step backwards if voters chose a Duma as divided as it was during the 1990s, when rival parties battled for supremacy.
United Russia has dominated the parliament since 2003, making it little more than a rubber-stamp body for Putin.
"Will this be a legislative body that is torn by irreconcilable differences and is unable to decide anything, as we have unfortunately already had in our history?" Medvedev said in a nationwide address.
"Or will we get a functioning legislature where the majority are responsible politicians who can help raise the quality of life of our people, whose actions will be guided by the voters` interests and national interests?" he said.