Putin says errant officials should spend dark New Year's Eve
Prime Minister Vladimir Putin on Friday said three top Russian officials should spend New Year's Eve in the dark after failing to fulfill their promise to repair damaged power lines.
"You said everything would be fine by 1800 (1500 GMT)," Russia's de facto number one said in nationally-televised comments to the three.
"You should not have said anything if you were not sure," he added, during a meeting with the governor of the Moscow region as well as federal energy minister and the head of the local power utility.
"I think that you should go and spend New Year's with them," Putin said of those without power in the Moscow region.
Putin has projected an authoritative image of a man who can solve problems usually left unattended by the country's vast bureaucracy.
His can-do approach has been cultivated by a cooperative state media and has helped keep him become the country's most popular figure over the past decade.
Putin's popularity and continued dominance over Russian politics has raised speculation that he will seek a return to the Kremlin in a presidential election scheduled for 2012.
Russia's president-turned-premier has said on repeated occasions that it was still too early to talk about the next elections.
© 2010 AFP