Putin has belittled the opposition even as his government has rolled out a set of proposed reforms in response to outrage over the Dec. 4 election for parliament, in which only Kremlin-approved parties were allowed to run and observers reported widespread vote-rigging. Putin hopes to return to the presidency in a March vote.
The opposition leaders "should formulate some kind of common platform and common position, so that it’s possible to understand what people want," a smiling Putin told a group of Russian reporters on Wednesday. "Is there a common platform? No. Who is there to talk to?"
The organizers of the two vast Moscow rallies this month included many prominent public figures and opposition leaders. Although some differ widely in their political views, they have passed joint resolutions with a list of concrete demands, including a rerun of the parliamentary election, the resignation of the Central Election Commission chief and the removal of barriers that have prevented opposition parties from taking part in elections.