Russia vote to stand despite protests: Putin aide

Saturday`s historic demonstrations saw more than 50,000 people deride the outcome of December 4 elections.

Moscow: Russian Prime Minister Vladimir
Putin`s spokesman said on Monday the results of contested
parliamentary polls will stand despite massive street protests
and a probe by the election authorities.

"Even if you add up all this so-called evidence, it
accounts for just over 0.5 per cent of the total number of
votes," Putin`s spokesman Dmitry Peskov said in a
telephone interview.

"So even if hypothetically you recognise that they are
being contested in court, then in any case, this can in no way
affect the question of the vote`s legitimacy or the overall
results," Peskov said.

His comments followed an order from President Dmitry
Medvedev for election officials to look into reports of
vote-fixing after the ruling party`s narrow victory sparked
the largest protest rallies since the 1990s.

Saturday`s historic demonstrations near the Kremlin saw
more than 50,000 people deride the outcome of December 4
elections that were widely seen as a litmus test for Putin`s
planned return to the presidency next year.

The rallies have put Putin under the strongest political
pressure he has faced in his dominant 12-year rule and
suggested that his path back to the Kremlin in March elections
may be thornier than originally thought.

They also appear to have sowed some confusion among
Russian authorities who had never before faced such an evident
groundswell of public resentment in the Putin era.

Putin originally accused US Secretary of State Hillary
Clinton of inciting the unrest by questioning the poll`s
legitimacy -- a comment similar to the Cold War era rhetoric
that dominated his 2000-2008 presidency.

But Putin`s spokesman Peskov said over the weekend that
"we respect the point of view of the protesters ... and will
continue to listen to them".

Medvedev followed that up yesterday by announcing the
launch of an inquiry into the violations reports.

"I disagree with the slogans and declarations made at the
meetings," Medvedev wrote in his Facebook account.

"Nevertheless, I have issued instructions to check all
polling station reports about (failures) to follow election
laws," Medvedev wrote.

Putin himself shunned the public spotlight over the
weekend and today did not address the elections in comments
aired on state television from his trip to the central region
of Tver.

Medvedev`s conciliatory remarks meanwhile were met by a
flood of ridicule on his Facebook page and quickly rejected as
insufficient by both activists and the opposition Communist

"Coward, coward and once again coward!" wrote blogger
Sergei Slaikovsky in one of the more than 10,000 Facebook
messages Medvedev received by today morning.

"We do not trust Medvedev`s words," added Communist Party
secretary Sergei Obukhov in an interview.


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