• Medvedev (l) - Van Rompuy (r) and Barroso did not leap to the parliament's defence (Photo: consilium.europa.eu)

Russian President: EU Parliament 'means nothing'

15.12.11 @ 18:11

  1. By Andrew Rettman
  2. Andrew email

BRUSSELS - President Dmitry Medvedev at his last-ever EU summit told MEPs to stay out of Russian affairs and dropped hints on a $10 billion donation for euro bail-outs.

One day earlier, the European Parliament by a thumping majority called for Russia to hold new parliamentary elections and for the EU to impose a visa ban on officials guilty of killing anti-tax-fraud lawyer Sergei Magnitsky.

"I will not comment on their decisions. They mean nothing to me ... The European Parliament should deal with internal issues because the EU has a lot of problems of its own," Medvedev told press in Brussels on Thursday (15 December).

He was more gallant about the euro crisis in other remarks.

He said a "powerful" EU is "very important" to Russia and called the euro "one of its most important contributions" to the world.

"Forty one percent of Russian foreign currency reserves are in euros or in euro-denominated securities. This is why we will keep on backing the EU ... We are ready to invest all the necessary financial means to back the European economy and the eurozone," he added.

Earlier the same day, Medvedev aide Arkady Dvorkovich told press Russia might give an extra $10 billion to the International Monetary Fund to be used for EU bail-outs.

The summit took place amid the biggest test of Kremlin authority in the past 20 years. Last weekend, some 50,000 people protested in Moscow against rigged elections. Over 15,000 people have already signed up on Facebook for a second rally on Christmas Eve.

For their part, EU Presidents Herman Van Rompuy and Jose Manuel Barroso barely registered that something out of the ordinary is happening.

Barroso said nothing on the elections. Van Rompuy said he is "concerned" about "reported" irregularities and praised the Russian police for showing restraint: "The recent large demonstrations were peaceful and the authorities in my view handled it very well."

The Medvedev meeting caused a fuss in terms of security, with over 100 journalists and EU officials kept out of the venue because they had the wrong badge or tried to use the wrong door.

The lame-duck president has promised to step down in March to let Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin officially take back power, making the event his last-ever EU summit.

His low status was reflected in Putin's annual question-and-answer TV show in Russia the same day, in which Putin mentioned Medvedev's name just once in four and a half hours.

Putin caused surprise by suggesting CCTV cameras should be installed in polling stations to prevent fraud in the March presidential election and that he might pardon jailed oligarch Mikhail Khodorkovsky.

More predictably, he blamed the protests on plots by the US and by UK-based Russian exiles.

With anti-Putin feeling rife on the internet while the Kremlin controls the TV, the 59-year-old politician sounded out of touch on new media. He said the government "should not control the internet," but warned that it is full of paedophiles. Asked if he looks at any websites, he answered: "I do not have any time for that."