MOSCOW - Russian President Vladimir Putin sent a clear warning on Thursday to opponents who have staged protests against his rule, saying the desire for political reform is dangerous if it leads to unrest.

"Anyone who considers himself a politician is obliged to express his position exclusively with the confines of the law," Putin said in an address at an economic forum. "The thirst for change is doubtless the engine of progress, but it becomes counterproductive and even dangerous if it leads to the destruction of civil peace and of the state itself."

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