The development of democracy in Russia must proceed along its own, sovereign course, without any outside interference, if the country is to avoid popular uprisings, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said on Wednesday.
Putin, who is running in the March 4 presidential election, said Russia must not become an importer of popular uprisings - "color revolutions" - and cited as an example Libya, where tribal factions began warring with each other soon after former leader Muammar Gaddafi was ousted.
“In order to prevent such things in our country, we need to develop our own democratic institutions so that people feel like participants in political processes and understand that the formation of power and the main directions in economic and social policies depend on them. This is the key point,” Putin said.
The second most important thing, he said, is to prevent any foreign involvement in the country’s domestic affairs, just as Russia has no interest in meddling in the affairs of other countries, including neighbors.
“We are not interested in, not planning to and do not want to interfere in anyone else’s affairs. But we are interested in a stable situation around Russia,” Putin said.
In the wake of numerous anti-government protests across Russia with demonstrators demanding fair elections, Putin said the country needs a legal opposition that would not be “nourished from abroad.”
“It is necessary to have a legal opposition… Unfortunately, we have people who are ready to do everything for the sake of fulfilling their own political ambitions, which, unfortunately, are often fed from abroad,” he said.
Anti-government protests in Russia were triggered by parliamentary elections in December, which were marred by allegations of widespread vote rigging. The protesters demanded a repeat election. The government ignored that demand but did launch sweeping reforms aimed at liberalizing the political system.