Kremlin ideologue vows reform after poll setback

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Russia's tightly-controlled political system will undergo changes to become more open, the top Kremlin ideologue promised, after several thousand people took to the streets to protest polls.

Russian strongman Vladimir Putin suffered his worst ever setback at the ballot box on Sunday as his ruling party's majority in parliament was sharply reduced. The opposition claimed the results would have been even worse in clean elections.

Vladislav Surkov, first deputy head of the Kremlin administration described as the architect of Russia's current political system, admitted the country required reform to ensure its future stability.

"The period of sanitatising and revitalising a political system that decomposed in the 90s is over. There's a need to change methods," he said in comments to writer Sergei Minayev and posted on LiveJournal, one of Russia's most popular blogging sites Monday evening.

"Acting in 2011 the same way as in 2001 is wrong," he added. Putin became president in 2000, serving for eight years as head of state in a period that saw civil liberties eroded.

He handed over the Kremlin to Dmitry Medvedev in 2008 and became prime minister. Putin announced in September he planned to seek a new Kremlin term in March presidential polls.

"You can't win a big game by playing with one chess piece, even if it's a king. You can't find yourself in a position of 'solus rex' -- 'king stands alone,'" Surkov said, using a chess term.

"You need to interact and not shut yourself off. An open system is more turbulent but also more stable no matter how paradoxical this is. And we are in favour of stability, right?"

His comments came after several thousand people took to the streets in central Moscow late Monday despite pouring rain for a rally against the results of Sunday's elections, the biggest opposition protest in the capital in years.

© 2011 AFP

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