'Mind your own business,' Putin tells foreign critics
'First off, a hawk is a good little bird':
Russia: Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, expected to
reclaim the presidency in March elections, promised Monday a balanced
foreign policy but warned against outside interference in domestic
Addressing Russians on primetime television to explain his
controversial decision to seek a third mandate as president, Putin said
his foreign critics should mind their own business and "fight inflation"
and "obesity" in a thinly veiled but startling dig at the United States.
"In the past, today and in the future we have conducted and will
conduct a balanced policy aimed at creating favourable conditions for
the country's development," Putin said.
"And this means that we want to have good neighbourly, friendly ties
with all our partners."
Putin spoke after many analysts in the West warned that his planned
Kremlin comeback could deal a blow to the US-Russian "reset" in ties and
usher in frostier relations with the West.
Replying to a request from his interviewers to comment on Western
attempts to brand him a "hawk," Putin said:
"First off, a hawk is a good little bird. I am a person anyway. But I
am against any cliches."
"Naturally, we've protected and will protect in the most active
manner our national interests but we've always done this in a civilised
way and will continue to do so in the future."
Putin's announcement of his decision to seek the presidency which he
already held between 2000 and 2008 shocked many in the West. Moscow,