Vladimir Putin sammenlignet onsdag opposisjonen med hyener som står i ledtog med utenlandske krefter og som ønsker et svakt Russland.

«Those who confront us need a weak and ill state. They want to have a divided society, in order to do their deeds behind its back,» he said.

A strong United Russia majority in parliament was needed to preserve his course, he said.

«Regrettably, there are those inside the country who feed off foreign embassies like jackals and count on support of foreign funds and governments, and not their own people,» Putin said.

«Now, they’re going to take to the streets. They have learned from Western experts and have received some training in neighboring (ex-Soviet) republics. And now they are going to stage provocations here,» he said, raising the specter of the upheavals that brought Western-oriented leaders to power in Georgia and Ukraine.

The statement appeared to refer to opposition rallies planned this weekend in Moscow and St. Petersburg. Police have forcefully dispersed several previous marches and demonstrations, beating and detaining scores of protesters.

Russian president lashes out at West