Putin ‘ready for talks with Russian Opposition’

Putin said that he was ready for dialogue with the opposition after the biggest protest against his 12-year rule.

Updated: Dec 28, 2011, 23:13 PM IST

Moscow: Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said on Wednesday that he was ready for dialogue with the opposition after the biggest protest against his 12-year rule at the weekend but added he was at a loss for a leader to hold talks with.

"The dialogue should take place," Putin told reporters. "In what form? I will think about it. They should formulate some kind of shared platform ... Who do we talk to?"

Tens of thousands gathered in central Moscow on Saturday to protest against election results that gave Putin`s United Russia party a majority in the lower house of parliament or Duma. International monitors said the vote was marred by violations.

Putin, accused of being out of touch with the growing protest movement, has walked a thin line between questioning the opposition`s credibility as a real political force and addressing protesters` concerns in the country of 140 million.

Russia`s opposition, marginalised under Putin`s tightly controlled political system, have been galvanised by the protests but have failed to unite behind a single leader.

Putin said the demonstrators were made up of a mix of marginalised liberal movements, communists and nationalists, who had so far failed to reach a common set of demands.

"Is there a common platform there? No there isn`t," he said. "We need to talk to everybody about their claims, about their problems, but it requires some thinking."

He refused to comment on blogger Alexei Navalny, whose arrest during a protest the day after the December 4 election won him prominence among the opposition. He was released last week.

Bureau Report