Putin Calls for Unity in Last Speech to Parliament as PM

Posted April 11th, 2012 at 5:50 am (UTC-5)
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Prime Minister Vladimir Putin is calling on Russians to move beyond the political rancor that sent thousands into the streets to protest after elections that divided the nation.

Mr. Putin said the time has come to move beyond the heightened emotions and political battles that ensued following his election to the presidency. He said it was now the responsibility of all political parties to join forces to improve the lives of the Russian people.

Mr. Putin's annual speech to the Duma, or lower house of parliament, Wednesday is his last as prime minister. He is set to be sworn in for a third term as president on May 7.

Prime Minister Putin also focused on Russia's economy, which has faced serious struggles in recent years.

Before the speech, police in Moscow arrested several protesters as they approached the Duma, including Russian opposition activist Sergei Udaltsov. Udaltsov was one of the leaders of the massive protests that followed the country's presidential elections in March.