In an announcement aired on Russian television Vladimir Putin called on citizens to vote for his United Russia party in parliamentary elections Sunday, in order to prolong "stability and continuity," and "set the tone" for March elections. He also warned casting ballots for liberal opposition candidates would cause a return to "times of humiliation, dependence and disintegration," the BBC reports.
"We cannot allow the return to power of those who once tried but failed to rule the country," Putin said. Detractors, among them recently imprisoned Garry Kasparov, have charged him with monopolizing the media to promote his own agenda, and have criticized recent police violence at political opposition rallies. "We are in effect entering a very dangerous period," Kasparov said today.