MOSCOW - Vladimir Putin's powerful ally, former Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin, said on Saturday that he shared Russian protesters' concerns about a disputed election and offered to lead dialogue with the authorities to fend off revolutionary turmoil.
Putin, who has led Russia for 12 years as president and then prime minister, is facing the biggest protests of his rule after a December 4 parliamentary election which thousands of Russians say was rigged and unfair.
In his remarks, Kudrin warned that dialogue with the authorities was essential to ensure calm, non-violent change and to avoid a 'revolutionary' turmoil. State news agency RIA reported that he would join a protest in Moscow on Saturday.
Such comments make Kudrin the most influential Putin ally yet to back the concerns of tens of thousands of Russians though his warning on turmoil may worry investors in the world's biggest energy producer.