Putin: "I'm not tsar of Russia"
When the journalist recalled that in the 2013 Moscow mayoral elections Navalny won 27% of the vote, Putin suggested comparing this result with the March elections.
Ahead of a visit to Austria, Russian Federation President Vladimir Putin had a talk with a journalist of local ORF channel, Armin Wolf, and much of the interview focused on the main Russian oppositionist – Alexey Navalny. Speaking of him, the Head of state recalled the already tested comparison of the politician with ex-President of Georgia Mikhail Saakashvili, and also boasted of his results in the presidential elections in Moscow, where he outdid the results Navalny enjoyed five years ago.
The first question of the journalist about Navalny was as follows: "It turned out that the most famous oppositionist in Russia could not run as a candidate, this is blogger Alexey Navalny. You have never voiced his name openly. Why?"
Putin said that every country has many "rebels," which go under the guise of anticorruption efforts, but when they come to power, corruption, on the contrary, thrives. As the most vivid example, the President cited the Ukrainian leadership: "What does Europe say about corruption in Ukraine? Everyone blames them for doing little in this sphere" (quote from the Kremlin’s website).
"We are reluctant to have another, second, third or fifth Saakashvili, the former President of Georgia, slipped in. We do not want Saakashvilis to appear on our political scene in the second, third, fourth edition. We need people with a positive agenda. But if there is not a single positive start and proposals on how to address this or that problem, how to resolve this or that issue, people do not react very much to it. If nothing is offered, these people are not interesting," Putin stated.
The Austrian journalist answered back that voters had not even had a chance to look at Navalny since he had been prevented from filing his candidacy. Putin said to this that voters could have had a look at him on the Internet, "which is free for us." "If a person gains some prominence among voters, he becomes a figure with which the government should communicate, negotiate or hold a dialogue. But if both political powers have a confidence level of 1, 2, 3 percent or 100ths of a percent, what is it with that then? Then, here you go, there is a Saakashvili for you. Why do we need such clowns?" said the Russian leader.
When the journalist recalled that Navalny won 27% of the vote in the Moscow mayoral election in 2013, Putin suggested comparing this result with the March elections: "How many people do you think voted for your humble servant in Moscow in the last election? Not in the Moscow mayoral election, but in the presidential run in Moscow? Check it out". Wolf responded that, probably, more than 27%, but Navalny had not been able to be nominated as a candidate.
"Right, much more, for which I am very grateful to the Muscovites, as in Moscow there is a very mature voter, very mature. And we are not talking about the mayor elections now, we are speaking of the presidential elections," Putin concluded.
To recap, in the presidential elections Putin was supported by 70.88% of Moscow voters. That said, independent monitoring groups from public organizations stated that large-scale falsifications were committed during the voting, and turnout was inflated many-fold. Golos (Voice) movement reported that Moscow had become the leader in the number of violations. Putin's runner-up, Pavel Grudinin, called the elections "the dirtiest in the post-Soviet space" and even sided with Navalny, who had predicted mass violations.
Putin answered if he was the tsar
In the interview with ORF, Vladimir Putin also replied to the question whether he was ostensibly the tsar of Russia. "This is, of course, wrong and collides with reality, because we have a democratic state, and we all live within the framework of the current Constitution. Our Constitution - just like the Constitution of Austria, I believe so, stipulates: a President can be elected for two consecutive terms, no more", the President said.
"So after two legitimate terms of my presidency I left this post, did not change the Constitution and took another position, I worked as the Chairman of the government of the Russian Federation. After that, as known, in 2012 I returned, passed through the elections, won the elections. Today in our country one term of the President, it appears just like yours, is six years," Putin clarified.
TV presenter Armin Wolf said that "people are speculating about some referendum that will be held to make you a lifelong President, like Xi Jinping in China." The journalist wondered if it was possible in Russia. "I do not comment on speculations. I think it would not be serious for the President of the Russian Federation," Putin replied.
Six months ago, no one could predict the state of the MIA General Administration for St. Petersburg and the Leningrad Region by the time of the forthcoming elections. After the appointment of Moscow general Roman Plugin in charge of it, the St. Petersburg police has undergone significant changes. Major general of justice Oleg Antropov, Head of the Main Investigations Directorate, is ‘the last man standing’ from the old command of the MIA General Administration. Most probably, he is going to become the next victim of ‘janitor’ Plugin.