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Putin slams ‘dangerous’ illegal protests, likens drawing children into them to terrorism

Citizens have the right to express their opinions but only as permitted by law, the Russian president stressed

ZAVIDOVO /Tver Region/, January 25. /TASS/. Citizens have the right to express their opinions but only as permitted by law, Russian President Vladimir Putin stressed Monday, noting that the police as well are mandated to act in accordance with legislation during protests.

"All people have the right to express their point of view within the legal framework. Everything that oversteps these boundaries is not just counterproductive but also dangerous," Putin told a meeting with university students, commenting on the recent unauthorized rallies held across Russia.

Putin drew attention to the January events in the US "when the mob stormed the parliament." "What are they doing with these people?" he asked, recalling that the FBI vowed to find all those who participated in the siege and imprison them. "Between 15 and 25 years [behind bars] for domestic terrorism. They came out with political slogans too but it fell outside of the scope of law. Why everything outside the legal framework should be permitted in Russia?" he noted.

Responsible politics

"Least of all should underage children be pushed to the front," Putin continued, noting that "this is what terrorists do" when they "drive women and children ahead of them." "The focus is a little shifted here, but essentially it is the same," the president stressed.

He concluded that all citizens have the right to engage in politics, express their opinion and promote it in society but within the legal bounds.

"Law enforcement agencies should act in the scope of law as well. They also should serve the Russian people and the state but also in the framework of their duties and law," Putin underlined. He expressed hope that the country will be able "to move forward in this way."

"Nobody should resort to them [unauthorized rallies] trying to protect their ambitious goals and tasks, especially in politics. That's not the way politics is done, at least if it is responsible," he said.