RIA Novosti: Putin Urges Governors to Strengthen Relations With Opponents

Map of Russia

(RIA Novosti – NOVO-OGARYOVO – Moscow Region, September 10, 2013) ­ Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday called on newly elected heads of Russian regions to get in contact with their former opponents and use their proposals.

“I am urging you to build relationships not only with your support groups but with all your opponents as well, bearing in mind that they … sincerely wanted to get these tools of power to resolve the problems of our citizens,” Putin said at a meeting with governors elected on Sunday.

“Their [the opponents’] programs must have something valuable that could be used for collaborative work,” he stressed.

About 7,000 elections of various types were held across 80 Russian regions on Sunday. Ten constituent members of the Russian Federation, including Moscow and the Moscow Region, chose their leaders.

Putin called on the elected regional heads to “not only joyfully pat one another on the back and congratulate one another, but realize that huge responsibility for the destinies of your regions lies on your shoulders.”

The Russian president also said it had become harder to be a politician.

“You have felt it ­ and therein lies the meaning of our actions to improve the country’s political system recently ­ that work in the political field has become more complicated. It has become competitive in the full sense,” he said.

“Not only parliamentary but also non-parliamentary parties take part in elections. Many of them substantially improved their positions during elections to regional legislative bodies,” Putin said.

“It means that our nationals are seeking an alternative, seeking those who, in their opinion, would be able to effectively solve problems,” he said.

In Moscow, with all votes counted, acting pro-Kremlin Mayor Sergei Sobyanin won 51.37 percent of the vote, while his main rival, opposition figurehead and anti-corruption activist Alexei Navalny finished in second place with 27.24 percent, the city’s election commission said. Navalny disputed the final vote tally at a press conference at his campaign headquarters Sunday night, claiming there was evidence of vote-rigging.

The ruling United Russia party dominated most of the regional election races, with the notable exception of Yekaterinburg, where controversial anti-drug crusader and opposition candidate Yevgeny Roizman beat out United Russia’s Yakov Silin for mayor. With 100 percent of the ballots counted, Yekaterinburg’s election committee released results Monday morning showing Roizman had 33.25 percent of votes and his main opponent, Silin, 29.77 percent.

Putin praised Russia’s September 8 elections as “legitimate and transparent” but urged officials to work to improve control of elections and make them even more transparent.