Moscow: Prime Minister Vladimir Putin vowed
on Friday to end police repression in Russia and make government
more accountable, as he kicked off his campaign for the
presidential election after mass protests.
In his manifesto for the March 4 election where he plans
to take an unprecedented third Kremlin term, Putin also
promised to build a strong Russia and retaliate against
Western states that failed to listen to Moscow.
The manifesto, posted on his new campaign site,
putin2012.ru, has been published one month after the start of
anti-Putin protests which rallied tens of thousands and posed
the biggest challenge to his 12-year rule of Russia.
"We need to re-think the whole system of public security
and need to stop the extremely repressive tendency" of the
security forces in Russia, Putin wrote in the election
The behaviour of the security forces is seen as one of
Russia`s biggest scourges due to widespread corruption and
iron-fisted tactics. The promise by Putin may be seen as a
concession to the protest movement.
"This situation is deforming our society and is making it
morally unhealthy. The actions of the security forces should
be aimed at protecting and supporting legal business -- not
fighting it," he added.
Putin has been repeatedly lambasted by critics during his
two terms in the Kremlin to 2008 and his current stint as
prime minister for allowing the security forces Soviet-style
powers to control society.
But Putin promised: "We will ensure the accountability of
the authorities towards the society that they are working
for." He proposed "effective government under the control of
The liberal Yabloko party leader Sergei Mitrokhin
expressed suspicion about the pledges. "I do not think they
will be implemented given he has got used to ruling through
the security forces," he told the Interfax news agency.
Despite the pledge for more accountability, Putin`s
spokesman rejected calls for him to take part for the first
time in televised campaign debates with his main rivals like
Communist leader Gennady Zyuganov.
Putin`s participation would require a "formal vacation"
which would "interfere with his duties" as premier, Dmitry
Peskov told Russian news agencies. He did not rule out Putin
sending representatives to take part in debates.
In a stern warning to the West, Putin also vowed that
world powers would not be able to make decisions "behind the
back of Russia or avoiding Russia and her interests".