Russian president lashes out at West

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RUSSIAN PRESIDENT LASHES OUT AT WEST
By VLADIMIR ISACHENKOV, Associated Press Writer
1 hour, 41 minutes ago

MOSCOW – Vladimir Putin called his critics foreign-funded “jackals” and accused the West of meddling in Russian politics in a scathing speech Wednesday meant to drum up support for the main pro-Kremlin party.

The thunderous attack came as Russia heads toward Dec. 2 parliamentary elections that have turned into a plebiscite on Putin and whether he should retain power after stepping down as president next year after two consecutive terms.

Thousands of flag-waving supporters who packed a Moscow sports arena for the speech joined in chants urging Putin to remain Russia’s “national leader.”

It isn’t clear what formal title he might hold, but he heads the ticket of the dominant United Russia party and has suggested he could become prime minister. Opinion surveys suggest the party will win two-thirds of the votes and a crushing 80 percent of the lower house of parliament’s 450 seats.

With approval ratings exceeding 70 percent, Putin cast the election as a black-and-white choice between the current economic boom and the poverty and political chaos of the 1990s — doomsday rhetoric clearly aimed at getting his supporters to the polls. LINK

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