Russia's paramount leader, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, hinted on Monday he would return to the presidency in 2012 for six more years and said democracy protesters marching without permission deserved to be beaten.
In the Kommersant interview, Putin robustly defended police crackdowns on pro-democracy protesters in recent months. He said those who marched must obey current laws requiring them to seek advance permission from local authorities.
"If you get (permission), you go and march," Putin said. "If you don't - you have no right to. Go without permission, and you will be hit on the head with batons. That's all there is to it."