Near 100 percent South Russia support legitimate: Putin

MOSCOW – The near 100 percent support for the Kremlin’s United Russia party in parliamentary elections last year in the North Caucasus were legitimate and vindicated Kremlin policies, President Vladimir Putin said on Thursday.

Putin’s comments were his first on United Russia’s huge wins in the south Russian regions of Dagestan, Chechnya, Ingushetia and Kabardino-Balkaria in the December election, where human rights groups and locals have challenged the official results.

“People are tired. The civil war lasted there almost 10 years and people have finally begun to see a light at the end of the tunnel,” Putin said at his annual news conference in the Kremlin.

“It is an objective result.”

Putin has placed a former rebel turned ally in charge of Chechnya, where Russian soldiers fought rebels in two wars since 1994. He has also pumped in millions of dollars to rebuild the destroyed infrastructure and the fighting has waned.

But in neighboring Ingushetia and Dagestan fighting has intensified over the last year.


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