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Kremlin Dismisses Opposition Rallies As Marginal

Police controlling the April 14 demonstration in Moscow (RFE/RL) April 17, 2007 -- The Kremlin today dismissed recent opposition rallies in Moscow and St. Petersburg as "extremely marginal."

Speaking on state-run television station Russia today, Dmitry Peskov, a spokesman for President Vladimir Putin, said that foreign media had exaggerated the police crackdown on the April 14-15 rallies, although he said there had been some "overreaction" by the police.

The United States and European Union expressed concern over the police response, in which scores of protesters were arrested and some were injured.

Peskov further said the two-term limit in Russia's Constitution will not be changed and Putin will leave office as scheduled in March 2008. Peskov added that while there will not be a Kremlin-endorsed "successor," Putin has the right to give "advice" to voters.

Putin was elected in 2000 and 2004. Some politicians have suggested changing the constitution to allow him to seek a third term.

(Reuters, AFP)

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