Putin says no crackdown on protesters after vote

MOSCOW - Russia's Vladimir Putin promised he would not crack down on Russia's burgeoning opposition movement following his likely election as president on Sunday, but rejected protesters' calls for early parliamentary polls.
Tens of thousands of people have turned out for protests in Moscow and other cities since a disputed parliamentary vote in December - the biggest protests of Putin's 12-year rule.
The unprecedented wave of demonstrations has cast a shadow over the powerful prime minister who appeared politically invincible throughout much of his rule.
In remarks published on Friday, Putin signaled he was confident he could maintain control and popular support without tightening the screws or giving in to opponents' demands.
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