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Legal forms of protest in Russia should
Legal forms of protest in Russia should not and will not be restricted, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin announced during a meeting with leaders of the ruling United Russia party on Friday.

"Our legitimate political forces have been acting responsibly and I hope that this will continue. We cannot, we should not, and we will not restrict legal forms of protest," Putin said.

According to the former president, even in times of social and economic prosperity, there are always people ready to criticize.

"That's what democracy means," he said. "Churchill said that 'democracy is the worst form of government with the exception of all others,' and I agree with him."

He also said however that there was more opportunity to criticize the authorities during a crisis.

"This isn't bad, on the whole, if it is done within the law, but if it goes beyond the limits of the law, then they are pursuing their own petty, selfish aims, and trying to make a name for themselves. We cannot permit the type of events that happen in other countries," he said.

January 31 saw Russia-wide rallies both in favor of and against the Kremlin's anti-crisis measures. Russia has been hit hard by the worldwide economic downturn, which has cut the price of oil and other major commodities which drive the Russian economy.

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