Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin strongly criticized U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton on Thursday for encouraging and supporting Russians protesting election fraud, and warned of a wider Russian crackdown on dissent. By describing Russia 's parliamentary election as rigged, Putin said Clinton "gave a signal" to his opponents. "They heard this signal and with the support of the U.S. State Department began their active work," Putin said in televised remarks. Clinton has repeatedly criticized Sunday's parliamentary vote in Russia , saying "Russian voters deserve a full investigation of electoral fraud and manipulation." Russian protesters have taken to the streets in Moscow and St. Petersburg for three straight nights despite a heavy police presence, outraged over observers' reports of widespread ballot box stuffing and manipulations of the vote count. This week has seen some of the biggest and most sustained protests Russia has faced in years, and police have detained hundreds of protesters.