Putin says Russia faces 'uncertainties and risks'
Prime Minister Vladimir Putin warned Wednesday in advance of parliamentary elections that Russia faced numerous risks in the future that demanded that the government tighten its grip on power.
Putin told the year's last session of the State Duma lower house of parliament ahead of December 4 elections that Russia's economy would struggle to survive a new global economic downturn.
"We are still facing very many uncertainty factors and risks. And in case of a storm, a gale, a crisis, it is very important for the entire team to work in a cohesive manner, for the boat not to capsize," Putin said in televised remarks.
Putin has announced plans to return to the Kremlin in March presidential elections following a 2000-2008 presidency that saw his ruling United Russia party turn into the country's most dominant political force.
The party now faces shrinking voter approval ratings and Putin has on past occasions also argued that Russia could not afford to have a strong opposition that can block various laws at a time of economic uncertainty.
Putin said on Wednesday that "in these circumstances, the ruling party always expects the opposition to behave in a calm manner and not to rock the boat. But these are vain hopes.
"The opposition exists to make sure that the ruling party, the ruling authorities could hold on to the levers of power more strongly and prove to society the correctness of the country's development course," he concluded as deputies rose from their seats to applaud.
© 2011 AFP