Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev urged the opposition on Thursday to stay within the law while combating ballot rigging and other violations of the law.
Commenting on the video clips demonstrating alleged police brutality and other abuses that were posted on the Internet, Medvedev said conclusive evidence – proof – was paramount.
Over 400 people were detained as a Moscow protest rally turned violent on the eve of Vladimir Putin’s May 7 presidential inauguration. Some thirty police officers and an unconfirmed number of demonstrators were also injured in the most serious violence since the start of the protests against Putin last winter, protests that had previously been largely peaceful.
“I have spent quite a bit of time in courts in my life and I know what the judicial process is all about,” he said at a meeting of “open government” forum experts.
“Our problem, the problem of our expert community and civil society as a whole is that we have learned to pass judgment on everything without being experts.”
Small groups of opposition activists remained on the streets of downtown Moscow on Thursday morning after four days of anti-Putin protests that began with pitched battles between police and demonstrators and also saw the jailing of two of the movement’s figureheads.
Opposition figures claimed arbitrary arrests and the protests took on an increasingly surreal aspect as hundreds of activists were frequently detained, charged and released, only to be picked up again by security forces on the lookout for anyone wearing a white ribbon, the symbol of the protest movement.
The Russian government has “no professional disagreements” with the country’s main political, including opposition forces, Medvedev said.
“This does not apply to the struggle for power,” he continued. “And it will exist in our country – this is normal, we have an open society.”
As part of his plan to promote a more open society, Medvedev said Russia may start appointing state and government officials to new posts on a competitive basis as soon as June.
“As soon as the new government is formed, we may start conducting competitions…and maybe around June start appointing a few people to show that the competitive appointment system is working, including people holding high positions in the government administrative system,” Medvedev said.
He called for the inclusion of “difficult” opposition figures in public councils in government.
“I suggest we pay attention to those ‘awkward passengers’ who could be placed in civil councils in this or that ministry or authority. They should be ‘awkward’ but constructive people,” he said.
Medvedev said he is preparing final proposals on the makeup of a new cabinet, which will be submitted to President Vladimir Putin.
“I am preparing the final proposals on the candidacies of new government members,” he said.
“When this is over I will go on a business trip [to a G-8 summit] while the president will consider these candidacies.”