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Putin Preoccupied by Protests

That P word just won’t go away in Russia, and the authorities are beginning to show their concern.  However with the latest threats to send out truncheon-wielding OMON to break up demonstrations, isn’t the Kremlin helping to make the opposition larger?

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin warned opposition critics on Friday not to use the economic crisis as an excuse to challenge his government and told them to abide by the law.

Unrest across Russia over economic upheaval has been muted, with the biggest protests so far taking place in the Far East port of Vladivostok where hundreds were arrested in January demonstrations over car tax.

Speaking at a meeting with leaders of Russia’s dominant political party, United Russia, ahead of regional elections this weekend, Putin said that criticism of the Russian government during a crisis was allowed, but only within the laws.

“If opposition actions go outside the law, it means they are not pursuing the goals of improving people’s lives, but their own selfish goals and the state has the right to defend itself properly,” Putin said at his residence outside Moscow.