Russia's disputed parliamentary elections will not be re-run, Vladimir Putin told Russian state TV. Appearing for a questions and answers session, the prime minister, who is currently campaigning for the presidency, said that a return to the polls would "destabilise society".
Despite looking relaxed, Putin is facing ardent opposition across Russia after the December 4 vote drew allegations of fraud. Last Sunday, more than 50,000 protesters took to the streets of Moscow to demonstrate against the result.
However, when asked about Sunday’s unrest, Putin maintained that the elections were not flawed.
“The election properly reflected the real balance of power in the country,” he said.
“As for the fairness or unfairness: the opposition will always say the elections were not fair. Always. This happens everywhere, in all countries.”
In a jovial mood, the former KGB operative even joked that the protests, which were witnessed in more than 80 cities last weekend, were a “normal thing”.
“If it is the result of the Putin regime it pleases me,” he said. “I saw on television mostly young, active people clearly expressing their positions. I am pleased to see this. The fact that people are expressing their point of view about the processes occurring in the country, in the economy, in the social sphere, in politics, is an absolutely normal thing, as long as people continue acting within the law.”
When asked if the election would be re-run, Putin said this would not happen, adding “to allow oneself to be drawn into schemes to destabilise society is not right and is unacceptable.”
He also turned to his usual rhetorical trope of blaming the west for attempting to disrupt the country, calling it "a well-organised pattern of destabilising society."
After the broadcast, the russian word for botox (#ботокс) trended on Twitter. In September, rumours spread that the Russian leader had undergone a "surgical enhancement".
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