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Putin accuses Clinton of instigating protests

MOSCOW — Prime Minister Vladimir Putin on Thursday accused Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton of inciting unrest in Russia, as he grappled with the prospect of large-scale political protest for the first time in his more than decade-long rule.

In a rare personal accusation, Putin said Clinton had sent “a signal” to “some actors in our country” after Sunday’s parliamentary elections, which have been condemned as fraudulent by both international and Russian observers. Anger over the elections prompted a demonstration in which thousands chanted “Putin is a thief” and “Russia without Putin,” a development which has deeply unnerved the Kremlin. Speaking to political allies as he announced the formation of his presidential campaign, Putin said hundreds of millions in “foreign money” was being used to influence Russian politics, and that Clinton herself had spurred protesters to action.

Putin’s assertion that Clinton had prejudged Sunday’s vote seemed unfounded. Her first remarks were made Monday, after a scathing preliminary report was released by monitors from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.

—David M. Herszenhorn and Ellen Barry, The New York Times

Iran shows US drone on TV and lodges a protest

Seizing on its capture of a downed CIA stealth drone as an intelligence and propaganda windfall, Iran displayed the first images of what is described as the captive aircraft on state television Thursday and lodged an official diplomatic protest over the incursion.

The 2.5-minute video clip of the remote-control surveillance aircraft was the first visual proof to emerge that Iran had possession of the drone since Sunday, when Iran claimed that its military downed the aircraft. U.S. officials have since confirmed that controllers of the aircraft, based in neighboring Afghanistan, had lost contact with it.

The drone shown on Iran television appeared to be in good condition, although closer inspection of the images appeared to reveal a taped fracture on part of the wing.

Broadcast of the footage coincided with Iran’s announcement that it had formally protested what it called the violation of Iranian airspace by the spy drone. Because Iran and the United States have no direct diplomatic relations, Iran made its complaint by summoning the ambassador from Switzerland, which manages U.S. interests in Iran.

—Rick Gladstone, The New York Times

Muslim brotherhood quits Egypt constitutional panel

CAIRO — The Muslim Brotherhood, the Islamist group whose political party is leading in parliamentary elections here, on Thursday accused Egypt’s interim military rulers of attempting to undermine the legislature’s authority and interfering in the writing of a new Constitution.

The Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party said it was withdrawing from an advisory council being formed by the military leaders, saying that the military was trying to give the new council a major role in writing the Constitution.

On Wednesday, a member of the military council told a small group of Western journalists that to limit the power of a potential Islamist majority in the new Parliament, the military planned to give the new advisory council and the military-led Cabinet major roles in forming a constitutional assembly. Gen. Mohktar al-Mulla of the military council contended during the briefing that the newly elected Parliament would not represent the will of the broader Egyptian public.

—David D. Kirkpatrick, The New York Times