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Putin derides ‘strange’ Tory leadership race to choose new PM

‘Is this done through general elections? No. This is done with the help of the party’s gathering’

Zamira Rahim
Saturday 22 June 2019 18:52 BST
Vladimir Putin mocked the Conservative leadership race
Vladimir Putin mocked the Conservative leadership race (AP)

Vladimir Putin has mocked the Tory leadership race and the UK’s democratic systems, describing the process as "strange".

The Russian leader, who is accused by critics of stifling dissent in Moscow and leading an authoritarian regime, said he was confused by the British political system.

“They seem to poke a finger at us all the time over the democratic processes in Russia, the electoral law and so on and so forth,” he reportedly said.

“But let’s look at the method of bringing actually the country’s top person, the top person of the executive branch to the supreme power in Great Britain.

“Is this done through general elections? No. This is done with the help of the party’s gathering.’

“This is, of course, strange for me, honestly speaking. But such is the British system,” Mr Putin added.

The Conservative race to replace Theresa May as party leader and UK prime minister has intensified in recent weeks.

Boris Johnson, the front runner and Jeremy Hunt, the foreign secretary, are currently competing for the job ahead of the final round of voting.

Around 160,000 Conservative Party members will choose between the two candidates.

Conservative Party members are 71 per cent male and 97 per cent white, according to research from Queen Mary University.

The members will vote for a new prime minister over the next few weeks, with the victor likely to be in office by the end of July.

Most British citizens do not have a vote in the leadership election and there are currently no plans to call a general election.

”The candidate who will be elected by the party will be the prime minister. We will work with any person,” the Russian president said.

Mr Putin’s comments may raise eyebrows in the UK as the Russian leader has long been criticised over eroding democracy in his country.

The president has previously faced questions over the Russian state’s treatment of his critics, including opposition politician Alexei Navalny.

Russian police officers arrested Mr Navalny at a protest march in Moscow earlier this month.

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In March 2019 Moscow also approved new fines for people who insulted the government online.

Tensions between the UK and Russia deteriorated last year after Sergei Skripal, a former Russian double agent and his daughter Yulia were poisoned in Salisbury with the nerve agent novichok.

The attack led to a wave of diplomatic expulsions and diplomatic relations between Moscow and the west have since sunk to a post-Cold War low.

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