Vladimir Putin, the Russian Prime Minister, has used a rally of tens of thousands in Moscow to deliver a strong patriotic speech as part of his re-election bid in the March 4 presidential election. Among other bold statements reported by the international media, Putin:
- vowed he would not allow foreign powers to interfere in Russia’s internal affairs, and predicted victory in an ongoing battle for its future.
- urged the crowd to “say that we love Russia,” and “are we winners?”
- said an election victory by Putin was not enough to rid Russia of its problems.
- quoted classical Russian poetry and likened the current election campaign to the 1812 war with Napoleon.
Separately, Britain’s Daily Mail has cited state-run Itar-Tass as reporting that Putin — at a gathering of military commanders — praised Cold War-era scientists for stealing US nuclear secrets.
According to Putin, it was Russia’s duty for the “good of mankind” to act as a counterweight to to US hegemony power.
“You know, when the States already had nuclear weapons and the Soviet Union was only building them, we got a significant amount of information through Soviet foreign intelligence channels,” Putin reportedly said.
Putin said that spies with suitcases full of data stolen from the U.S. helped the Soviet Union build its first atomic weapon.
“The were carrying the information away not on microfilm but literally in suitcases. Suitcases!”
Meanwhile, Putin used the occasion of the Defender of the Fatherland Day, a holiday which honours the armed forces, to make his pitch for a 6-year extension of his 12-year rule to a crowd estimated by RT at 130,000 people at Moscow’s Luzhniki stadium.
His rivals include nationalist Vladimir Zhirinovsky, communist Gennady Zyuganov and businessman Mikhail Prokhorov.
Despite two months of rolling public protests against him — stemming from ballot-rigging claims in last December’s general election — Reuters cited the latest opinion poll this week as showing that Putin would win more than 50 per cent of the votes — enough to avoid a second-round runoff.
Pledging to win “the battle for Russia,” the BBC reported, Putin said he would not allow interference in the country’s affairs.
“We will not allow anyone to interfere in our affairs, to force their will on us,” he said. “Because we have our own will. We are a victor nation. It’s in our genes.”
The former KGB officer, RT reported, also said: “It is not enough for us to win, we also must overcome a large number of problems that we have enough, just like anyone does. This is injustice, bribery, rudeness of the bureaucrats, poverty and inequality.”
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