Putin clashes with Time over `Russophobic` cover

The international edition of Time came out just days before Russia holds a March 4 presidential ballot in which Putin is widely expected to overcome a recent wave of protests to regain the seat he held in 2000-08.

Moscow: Prime Minister Vladimir Putin`s
spokesman on Friday accused the US magazine Time of "Russophobia"
after it placed the strongman on its front cover and suggested
that Russia posed a global security threat.

The international edition of Time came out just days
before Russia holds a March 4 presidential ballot in which
Putin is widely expected to overcome a recent wave of protests
to regain the seat he held in 2000-08.

"Russia`s Incredible Shrinking Premier," Time said in
bold letters over a tiny picture of Putin -- whom it named
Person of the Year in 2007 -- walking confidently in a suit.

"Vladimir Putin will win a third term as president, but
his hold on power is shakier than ever. That makes the world a
more dangerous place," it said.

The US edition of Time focused instead on the heated
White House race.

"One can confidently say that the author of these words
is a big Russophobe and Putinphobe," Putin`s spokesman Dmitry
Peskov told Kommersant FM radio.

"This phobia is clouding (the author`s) eyes and
preventing him from objectively assessing reality."

There was no immediate response to the criticism from
Time or the article`s author.

Time called Putin "Tsar of The New Russia" over a famous
shot of the ex-KGB spy staring icily into the camera for its
December 2007 issue in which he was named the world`s most
significant figure of the year.

Putin has had frequent scuffles with the media through
his 12-year domination of Russia, once suggesting castration
for a French reporter who asked him a question in 2002 about
the controversial war in Chechnya.

He most recently accused a Moscow radio station that
presents a venue for the opposition of covering him with
"diarrhoea" in its news reports.

And several of Russia`s once-independent media outlets
saw a reimposition of state control over their activities
after Putin first took office as president in 2000.

Peskov said Putin`s team would continue "explaining the
actions that we are taking" in a bid to prove why the West`s
perception of the Russian leader was often wrong.

"But we will also refrain from offering explanations to
those for whom this would make no difference," he added.

PTI

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