Dec. 8 - Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin blames the United States for encouraging mass protests over Russia's recent parliamentary election. Simon Hanna reports.
Protests continue in Russia against the results of Sunday's parliamentary elections. On Wednesday night, police detained dozens of demonstrators in the centre of St. Petersburg. Activists here say the elections were rigged in favour of the ruling party, and are calling for an end to Prime Minister Vladimir Putin's 12 year rule - eight years as president and now four as Prime Minister. On Thursday Putin - who is running again for president - blamed foreign powers for the unrest. SOUNDBITE (Russian) RUSSIAN PRIME MINISTER VLADIMIR PUTIN: "When foreign money is put into political activities inside the country - this should make us think. Pouring foreign money into electoral processes is particularly unacceptable. We need to work out forms of protection of our sovereignty, defence against interference from outside." Putin pointed the finger specifically at the U.S. and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. SOUNDBITE (Russian) RUSSIAN PRIME MINISTER VLADIMIR PUTIN: "The first thing that the Secretary of State did was give her opinion about the elections, she said they were unfair and unjust, ever before she got the monitor's report. She set the tone for some of the activists inside our country, gave them a signal, they heard this signal and started active work with support of the U.S. State Department." Putin remains Russia's most popular politician, but polls show his approval rating has fallen from previous heights. Despite the recent opposition protests - the largest in years - he remains well placed to extend his domination of Russian politics after March's presidential elections. Simon Hanna, Reuters.