12 Apr 2012

Walkout by MPs after speech by Putin

10:30 am on 12 April 2012

An opposition party has walked out of the Russian parliament after a speech by President-elect Vladimir Putin which called for political unity.

It was the first time a whole party has walked out while Mr Putin was speaking.

''We have one Russia, and its modern, advanced development must be the goal that unites all the country's political forces that want to work to build it,'' Mr Putin said in the speech on Wednesday.

The BBC reports the protest by nearly all 64 MPs of A Just Russia came during question time in the Duma (lower house).

Mr Putin said Oleg Shein, the party's mayoral candidate in the city of Astrakhan, should have gone to court instead of launching a hunger strike.

A Just Russia argues that the Astrakhan courts cannot be trusted to investigate the electoral fraud fairly. Mayoral elections were held on the same day as the presidential election.

Mr Putin served as president in 2000-2008 and will be sworn in for a third term for six years on 7 May.

The speech to parliament was his last as prime minister.