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Putin Says He Doubts Opposition Wants Dialogue

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, gesturing during his January 18 meeting with representatives of Russian news media companies.
Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin says he’s ready for dialogue with Russian opposition forces -- but says he doubts whether their leaders really want to talk to him.

Putin’s comments came January 18 during a meeting with Russian news media personnel at his residence in Moscow’s suburbs.

Putin said some opposition figures had been invited for talks "not long ago," but had failed to come to the meeting.

It was not clear from reports who had been invited for the talks or when the invitations were issued.

"They say, 'We want a discussion...but the authorities do not hear us.'” Putin said. “We have invited them, but they don't come. I have a question: What do they want? They want to say that there is no discussion, or they don't want to have a discussion?"

Putin also accused the Ekho Moskvy radio station, which covers the opposition, of insulting him and serving the interests of foreign powers.

He cited as unfair one particular broadcast about U.S. missile defense plans, which the Russian government opposes.

Putin, who has been in power for the last 12 years, has been facing increased opposition pressure in the wake of the large public protests that occurred over allegations of vote fraud in the December parliamentary elections.

Putin is also campaigning to return to the post of president in an election due in March.

compiled from agency reports