Moscow: Russia will never become a dictatorship, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said on Wednesday, as he continued his bid for a third term as president
despite unprecedented protests against his rule.
"We have an open country and no matter what they say or
write, no matter what scary statements they make about some
sort of dictatorship, we don`t have that and -- I hope --
never will," he told students of Tomsk Polytechnic University
Putin, who served two consecutive presidential terms
between 2000 and 2008, has sought to dispel fears he plans to
impose a more authoritarian style of leadership upon his planned
return to the Kremlin.
"We have an open market economy and an open country on
the whole," he said in comments released by his office.
Putin is wrestling with the worst legitimacy crisis of
his 12-year rule after he announced plans to seek a third term
in the Kremlin in a job swap with incumbent President Dmitry
Medvedev in September.
Many ordinary Russians have attacked the plan. Tens of
thousands of people took to the streets in protest after
December parliamentary elections that observers said were
slanted in favour of Putin`s ruling party.