In a throw-back to the Cold War era, Putin charged US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and the State Department with sending signals to the opposition to protest the fairness of the just-concluded polls to the State Duma, lower house of Parliament.
Clinton "has described the polls unfair, even before seeing the report of OSCE (Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe) poll monitors," Putin said in his first comments on the wave of demonstrations taking place in the Russian capital. She has "set the tone for opposition activists," he charged, saying that the US Secretary of State was giving signals to the protesters with the backing of the State Department.
In a televised address to his supporters, Putin accused Washington of funding Russian NGOs to the tune of "millions of dollars" to question the validity of the elections. His hard-hitting comments come after Clinton complained that the polls were neither free nor fair, a concern also voiced by former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev. Putin's ruling United Russia party suffered a setback, losing large numbers of seats, although managing to retain simple majority in State Duma. Putin said the US was uncomfortable with Russia remaining a nuclear superpower and was trying to make its government pliant by making inroads into its domestic politics.