Russians want Putin to talk with opponents

June 7, 2012 at 4:00 PM
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MOSCOW, June 7 (UPI) -- Nearly two thirds of Russians say they think President Vladimir Putin should negotiate with opposition protesters, but few think it will happen, a poll found.

The poll by the Levada Center, published Thursday, found 69 percent of respondents said dialogue between Putin and the opposition is necessary, but only 35 percent said they believe such talks will happen in the near future, the RIA Novosti news agency reported.

Another 45 percent said they expect Putin to crackdown on opposition activists, the poll found.

Following a mass rally in Moscow May 6 that ended in clashes between protesters and riot police and the arrests of hundreds of protests, the government increased pressure on the opposition and the Russian parliament fast-tracked legislation to restrict public demonstrations. The law is expected to be signed by Putin ahead of a planned June 12 protest.

About 46 percent of respondents to the poll said actions by the riot police in May protest were too harsh and 51 percent said they did not believe riot police should be used to break up peaceful demonstrations.

A further 38 percent of respondents said they believed the new legislation on rallies is the government's attempt to suppress protests.

The poll, conducted in late May, questioned 1,600 people and had a margin of error of 3.4 percentage points.

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