Russia´s ruler Vladimir Putin tries to woo voters by new populist promises:
Vladimir Putin promised on Tuesday to turn back the clock and restore winter time in Russia if elected president, in a bid to woo millions of voters who have complained about waking up and going to work in darkness.
President Dmitry Medvedev, who will step down in May, scrapped winter time in 2011, arguing that switching the clock back and forth was bad for people's health. Medvedev's critics joked it was the incumbent's boldest move during his presidency.
"I am not going to stick to this decision. This is not some kind of a fetish. We can go back to it (winter time), but let's not do it in a hurry," Putin told a meeting of volunteers who will campaign on his behalf.
Putin is expected to win the March election but is facing growing protests from urban Russians unhappy with his decision to seek a third presidential term. The demonstrations also focused on accusations of fraud in December's parliamentary election, won by Putin's party.
In another populist move Putin also pledged to reduce the number of government cars using flashlights, which give them the right to ignore traffic rules and bypass traffic jams - a major irritant for Russian motorists.
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However, it is not likely that the growing number of critics will be convinced by Putin´s new promises. They know that the entire Putin era has been one disastrous backward turn of the clock.