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Need more signs of just how bad things are going for Vladimir Putin? The Russian Prime Minister is now happily (bizarrely?) taking credit for shaping those massive anti-government protests. "I see young, active people, clearly formulating their positions and this makes me happy ... If this is the result of the Putin regime, then great," Putin said in his annual, (and judging from The Guardian's live-blog, very edited) televised Q&A with the Russian public today. This year's event just happened to fall in the wake of those massive, 40,000-person-strong protests demanding the end of Putin's rule. And yes he inspired those protests ... like the way smoking inspires frightening anti-smoking commercials. Putin stopped just short of fully-endorsing those "young active people formulating their positions" though. The Washington Post noted that he said his rivals orchestrated the turnout, “I know that young people were paid ... Let them earn a little bit.” Of course that could just be jealousy coming from a guy who tried to stage a demonstration with paid supporters that turned out pretty paltry.  But let's not forget he does still have a fair bit of actual political clout. He confirmed Thursday he would appoint current president Dmitry Medvedev as prime minister following March's elections.

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