NOVO-OGARYOVO, December 16 (RIA Novosti)
- Russian investigators open first probe into alleged poll fraud
- Putin makes first comments on weekend's poll protests
- Putin orders webcams at polling stations at presidential poll
- Putin tells opposition to take poll complaints to courts
Rocked by mass opposition rallies, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin on Friday instructed the Finance Ministry and the Mass Communications Ministry to install web cameras at all polling stations.
“The maximum task is to equip 100 percent of the polling places with web cameras,” said Putin, who is launching his campaign to return to the presidency in March elections.
On Saturday, tens of thousands of protesters gathered in Moscow to rail against Putin, who served as president for eight years beginning in 2000, and to protest alleged fraud in recent parliamentary elections that saw his United Russia party garner nearly 50% of the vote.
Putin, in a 4.5-hour live TV Q&A marathon on Thursday, refused to acknowledge election violations but said that to prevent fraud in March, he would install live web cameras at every polling station in Russia "for the whole country to see."
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The growing outright rivalry between the United States and China gives Russia more foreign policy weight, enabling it to assume the role of a balancer. So far it has been doing so rather skillfully. Today it may participate in a joint naval exercise with China that Beijing positions as outwardly anti-American. But tomorrow it can team up with the naval forces of the Old World.