Putin trusts Obama but doubts US policy in Georgia, Europe

Russian PM says that in high politics, there was always element of cheating.

Last Updated: Aug 30, 2010, 15:58 PM IST

Moscow: Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin on Monday said he trusted President Barack Obama, who earnestly wants to `reset` relations with Moscow, but doubted the US policy in the region.

"I have a feeling that Obama is earnest. I don`t know, what he can, what he cannot, I would like to see whether he succeeds or not. But he wants. I have a feeling that it is earnest position," Putin said in an interview published by Kommersant business daily.

He, however, added that continued arming of Georgia and reconfiguration of missile shield deployment in other European countries in place of Poland and Czech Republic generate doubt in the present US administration`s `reset` policy.

In his interview to Kommersant on the newly-built Khabarovsk-Chita highway, with Putin in the driving seat of locally-built canary yellow Lada Kalina Sport, the Russian strongman said that in the high politics `there was always an element of cheating` and his 2007 anti-West speech in Munich was `plain truth`.

"We were told one thing, but altogether different thing was done. In the true sense we were cheated! In the course of (our) troops withdrawal from East Europe, NATO General Secretary told us that USSR should be in any case be assured that the NATO will not be expanded beyond the then existing borders. Tell me, where is all this? We were very primitively cheated," Putin said.

Putin, who is widely tipped to return to top Kremlin job in 2012, said that it was normal international practice to discuss, to whom the incumbent president would hand over charge after completing his term.

He said main thing was that the problem of 2012 should not veer Russia off the course of sustained development.

"Of course at such times we go through the moments of political struggle, which distract the society and the state from economy, but this is the price, which we need to pay for retaining a competitive society and state," Putin said.

He noted that presently Russia was undergoing a transition period in economy and political system after the collapse of Soviet economy tucked behind the Iron Curtain.

"Once we have a normal functioning economy, the political system will also change," he said.

Putin cracked down on the political dissenters in the country saying their rallies are a `provocation` against the government.

"In today`s modern world the opposition can air your view round the corner of public lavatory and the whole world will watch it.”

“If they want to air their opinion, they should call cameramen from East, West and Russia.”

“Give their statements with their banners with skull and crossed bones and walk away clanking their hoofs to sea (resorts)," Putin said when asked about the regular dispersal of dissenters` rallies on 31st of every month in defence of Article 31 of the Constitution granting freedom of assembly.

Putin said that by staging unsanctioned rallies, the opposition movements provoke the police to crack down on them.

"If their aim is provocation, they will always be successful. But if their aim is to inform the public, both international and Russian, there is no point in breaking the law," Putin said.

"If the aim is to make the authorities compromise and they will compromise, there will be other attempts at provocation, and this process will carry on indefinitely," Putin declared.

He said that he was not bothered about the drop in his rating, which was normal due to the hardships faced by concrete people in the wake of economic crisis.

PTI