Prime Minister Vladimir Putin accused the United States of encouraging protests over Russia's parliamentary election and said hundreds of millions of dollars in foreign funds were used to influence the vote.
In his first public remarks about daily demonstrations by protesters alleging Sunday's vote was fraudulent and unfair, Putin said US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton "gave a signal" to Kremlin opponents.
Blaming US for unrest. Medvedev (Left) and Putin (Right)
"She set the tone for some opposition activists, gave them a signal, they heard this signal and started active work," Putin said.
Putin said some of the demonstrators who have protested daily over allegations of election fraud were pursuing selfish political aims and that most Russians do not want political upheaval.
Security forces arrest protester in St. Petersburg (Photo: AP)
"We are all adults here and we understand that some ... of the organizers act in accordance with a well-known scenario and in their own mercenary political interests," he said.
Hundreds of people took to the streets of Moscow Tuesday for a second successive day to demand an end to Vladimir Putin's 12-year rule, defying a crackdown by tens of thousands of police reinforced by crack Interior Ministry troops.
Police said they had detained about 250 people in central Moscow when they tried to stage an unapproved rally and held about 200 more in St Petersburg, where opposition forces have also been emboldened by the prime minister's worst election setback since he took power in 1999.
'Free and fair election.' Lieberman and Putin (Photo: AFP)
The United States has expressed serious concern about the conduct of the Russian election, which Clinton suggested was not free or fair.
Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman stood by his Russian colleagues, claiming on Wednesday that the elections were free and fair.
The foreign minister based his assertion on reports made by Members of Knesset MK Robert Ilatov (Yisrael Beiteinu) and MK Ruhama Avraham-Balila (Kadima), who were sent to Russia as part of a group of 700 international observers that came to supervise the elections.
"Seventeen countries sent observers," said MK Ruhama, "On my team there were observers from the Czech Republic, Bulgaria and Britain, and we supervised the Moscow area. For an entire day we rotated between three large polling stations. We spoke to the manager, to voters and even checked the numbering on the forms.
"At least in the areas where I patrolled there were no issues or mishaps. On the contrary, we were impressed by their organization," she added.
Reuters, Associated Press and Moran Azulay contributed to this report
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