Human Rights Issues in Eurasia / Правовые Вопросы В Регионах Евразии

Gorbachev: “Putin Thinks That Democracy Stands In His Way”/Putin’s Party-United Russia Is “Bad Copy Of Soviet Communist Party”

Posted by Info on 27/10/2010

Mr. Gorbachev, the last Soviet leader, was giving interviews this month to promote a benefit concert that his foundation is sponsoring in March in honor of his 80th birthday. The foundation runs a research center and has raised millions of dollars for charities for children with cancer.
Mr. Gorbachev feels that he put Russia on the path toward being a functional democracy, only to have Mr. Putin block its progress.

Mikhail S. Gorbachev, who once supported Prime Minister Vladimir V. Putin, is voicing growing frustration with Mr. Putin’s leadership, that he had undermined Russia’s fledgling democracy by crippling the opposition forces.

“He thinks that democracy stands in his way.
“I am afraid that they have been saddled with this idea that this unmanageable country needs authoritarianism,
” Mr. Gorbachev said, referring to Mr. Putin and his close ally, President Dmitri A. Medvedev. “They think they cannot do without it.”
Mr. Gorbachev even described Mr. Putin’s governing party, United Russia, as a “a bad copy of the Soviet Communist Party.” Mr. Gorbachev said party officials were concerned entirely with clinging to power and did not want Russians to take part in civic life.

Mr. Gorbachev was especially disparaging of Mr. Putin’s decision in 2004, when he was president, to eliminate elections for regional governors and the mayors of Moscow and St. Petersburg. Those positions are now filled by Kremlin appointees. The impact of this change was illustrated in Mr. Medvedev’s dismissal last month of Moscow’s longtime mayor, who was replaced with a Putin loyalist.

“Democracy begins with elections,” Mr. Gorbachev said. “Elections, accountability and turnover.”


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