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Putin Calls Protests 'Unavoidable Price Of Democracy'

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin
Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin
Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has said there was nothing unusual in the mass protests against his domination of Russia.

Speaking in a televised message to Russians on December 31 ahead of the New Year, Putin called protests "the unavoidable price of democracy."

In recent days, Putin has mocked the protest movement, saying it appeared to have no program and no leader. But he said he sent his greetings to all Russians, whatever their political sympathies.

The protest movement has not said when it will call its next mass demonstration ahead of the March 4 presidential election, where Putin hopes to win a third term as president after his four-year stint as prime minister.

Meanwhile, the French AFP news agency reports that Moscow police arrested about a dozen people on December 31 while they were trying to attend an unsanctioned New Year's Eve antigovernment protest.

A similar number of people reportedly were detained at a separate unsanctioned event in Saint Petersburg.

compiled from agency reports

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