Moscow: President Dmitry Medvedev on Thursday vowed that Russia would not allow the West to "manipulate" its citizens over alleged rigging of parliamentary polls, even as he promised political reforms like direct elections of governors, abolished by his mentor Vladimir Putin. (Agencies)
"Attempts to manipulate Russian citizens, lead them astray and incite strife in society are unacceptable," he said, in his last annual address to the nation before his expected handover of power to Putin next year.
The reforms proposed by Medvedev included the creation of a "public" TV channel free from state influence.
Medvedev sought bold political reforms. He has proposed reinstating direct elections of regional governors, in a far-reaching plan for political reform, the BBC reported.
Direct elections were abolished by his predecessor Putin in 2004, since when the governors have been Kremlin appointees. Medvedev was addressing the full Russian Parliament, live on television.
"We will not allow provocateurs and extremists to drag society into their schemes, he said. We will not allow interference from outside in our internal affairs," he added.
"Russia needs democracy and not chaos," Medvedev said.
His speech comes after tens of thousands of people demonstrated in Moscow over alleged election abuses.
"We must give all active citizens the opportunity to take part in political life," Medvedev said in his state of the nation speech - the last such speech before he steps down next March. The procedure for registering political parties must be simplified, he continued.
Certainly these proposals would have been agreed with Putin, who talked about some of these things in his TV phone-in last week. Putin mentioned direct elections for regional governor and said it was important for the president to act as a filter. But the devil is in the detail. "The presidential elections [next year] must be honest, transparent, responding to the requirements of legality and justice," he said.
But he warned that "provocateurs and extremists" would not be allowed to create divisions in society, an agency added.
Another big opposition demonstration is expected on Saturday, amid continuing demands for a re-run of the December 4 parliamentary election.
The ruling party, United Russia, lost a quarter of its seats in the vote - a big slump in its support.
Medvedev proposed the creation of a "public" television channel free from state influence.
"None of the owners of this new media outlet should have a determining influence on any decision-making - neither the state nor a private owner," he said.
Moscow: President Dmitry Medvedev on Thursday vowed that Russia would not allow the West to "manipulate" its citizens over alleged rigging of parliamentary polls, even as he promised political reforms like direct elections of governors, abolished by his mentor Vladimir Putin.