Gorbachev Turns 80, Slams Putin over Russian Democracy

World | March 2, 2011, Wednesday // 20:15|  views

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev (L) speaks with former Soviet Union president Mikhail Gorbachev (R) during their meeting at the Gorki residence outside Moscow, Russia 02 March 2011. EPA/BGNES

On his 80th birthday former Soviet Union President Mikhail Gorbachev has criticized the Russian state leadership in the face of PM Vladimir Putin and President Dmitry Medvedev.

In an interview for Russian weekly "Argumenty i Fakty", Gorbachev has urged Putin to learn from the civil unrest in the Arab countries government by their presidents for decades, and not to seek a new presidential term in the election in 2012.

"If I were him I would not run for president. People don't want to be a mass, a herd, led for decades by the same shepherds," Gorbachev said pointing as an example to the fate of outsted Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.

Putin served two terms as president between 1999 and 2008 before being appointed prime minister by Medvedev, his successor and political prot?g?. While Russia's constitution forbids a leader from serving more than two consecutive terms, Putin could stand again in next year's presidential election.

In comments last month, Gorbachev, who was the Soviet leader from 1985 until the collapse of the Communist government in 1991, said Putin's United Russia party reminded him of the Communist Party and described Russian democracy as an "imitation".

"We have everything - a parliament, courts, a president and a prime minister, but these all are to a larger extent an imitation," Gorbachev said.

Last year, the Nobel Peace Prize winner lent his support to a new political movement called Civic Dialogue, headed by prominent human-rights defendants and other public figures.

Gorbachev was acclaimed in the West during the final days of the Cold War for his "perestroika" and "glasnost" programs of economic and political reform. He stepped down at the end of 1991, following the failure of a hardline coup to depose him as the Soviet Union broke apart. He has been a marginalized figure in Russia, with many holding him responsible for the political and economic upheavals which followed the collapse of the communist system.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev did award Gorbachev a St. Andrew medal for his work as a state leader on the occasion of his 80th birthday.

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Tags: Russia, Mikhail Gorbachev, Vladimir Putin, Dmitry Medvedev, Russian President, Soviet Union, USSR


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