Vladimir Putin is a “true liberal,” his spokesman said, dismissing Western criticism of the Russian president-elect as “complete nonsense.”
Speaking to the respected Itogi magazine, Dmitry Peskov said Putin was more of a liberal than “many of those who are called that in this country.”
Putin was elected for a third stint in the Kremlin with almost 64 percent of the vote earlier this month. The elections took place against a backdrop of the biggest anti-government demonstrations seen in Russia since Soviet times. Protests erupted after alleged vote fraud in favor of Putin’s United Russia party at December’s parliamentary polls and continued in the days following his election victory.
“Putin is a liberal not in his words but in actual practice,” Peskov said in an interview published on Monday.
“In the West, they indulge in branding him “iron,” “prophet of authoritarianism” an so on. This is complete nonsense,” he added.
However, Putin “will never be with those who define liberalism as an opportunity to trade off your country,” Peskov said.
Putin often accuses his critics of being paid agents of the West, saying the United States backed the vote fraud protests in December.
Earlier this month, hundreds of people picketed the offices of a state-backed TV channel, after it aired a documentary that accused the opposition of paying anti-government protesters.