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Public Figures Challenge Putin's Power

Two high profile figures associated with the Kremlin joined tens of thousands of Muscovites in the streets Saturday to once again protest Prime Minister Vladimir Putin’s attempt to prolong his tenure as the nation’s leading figure in the upcoming presidential election.

The two were former Finance Minister Aleksei L. Kudrin, who was part of Putin’s inner circle for more than two decades, and billionaire Mikhail D. Prokhorov, who has vowed to run against Putin in March. Protesters were skeptical of both men’s involvement, fearing that they represent establishment attempts to co-opt a growing opposition movement. –ARK

The New York Times:

But it is clear that government elites are taking protesters’ complaints as a warning and scrambling to head off a more dangerous confrontation. On Saturday, for the first time, two high-level figures connected to the Kremlin were at the demonstration.

Former Finance Minister Aleksei L. Kudrin, a member of Mr. Putin’s inner circle for more than two decades, took the stage to express his support for many of the protesters’ demands: the dismissal of the head of the Central Election Commission, Vladimir Y. Churov; the dissolution of Parliament and new elections; and changes in the election code to allow for free competition.

… “Sorry, what relationship does Kudrin have to democratic movements?” wrote Vladimir Varfolomeyev, an editor at the radio station Ekho Moskvy, via Twitter. “He’s a bureaucrat who has faithfully served the regime for 10 years.” When Mr. Kudrin took the stage, he was booed by some in the crowd and cheered by others.

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