Russia's Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has warned the West against meddling in the country's upcoming elections, after formally launching his campaign to reclaim the presidency.
In a televised speech at a congress of his ruling United Russia party, Putin warned that any attempts by Western powers to stir discontent in order to influence the outcome of the elections would be useless, AFP reported on Friday.
Russia will hold a crucial parliamentary vote next month, which will be followed by a presidential election in March.
Putin said that foreign countries were paying NGOs in Russia “in order to eventually influence the course of the election campaign in our country.”
"Useless work, wasted money," he added.
“It would be better if they used this money to pay off their national debt and stop conducting an ineffective and costly foreign policy,” the prime minster said.
The warning came after Putin formally accepted to stand as the ruling party candidate in 2012 presidential elections at a congress attended by more than 10,000 people.
Putin, 59, had to say good bye to presidency in 2008 after two consecutive terms because the Russian constitution prevented him from seeking a third consecutive term.
However, he will be free to run again in 2012 as President Dmitry Medvedev changed the constitution in late 2008 to extend future presidential terms to six years.
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