Mikhail Gorbachev lambasts Vladimir Putin's 'sham' democracy

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The Reaper
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Mikhail Gorbachev lambasts Vladimir Putin's 'sham' democracy

Postby The Reaper » Mon Feb 21, 2011 11:38 pm UTC

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/fe ... acy-russia
Russia under prime minister Vladimir Putin is a sham democracy, Mikhail Gorbachev has said in his harshest criticism yet of the ruling regime.

"We have everything – a parliament, courts, a president, a prime minister and so on. But it's more of an imitation," the last president of the Soviet Union said.

Gorbachev, who oversaw the , has become increasingly critical of the modern Russian state, accusing its leaders of rolling back the democratic reforms of the 1990s.

Speaking at a press conference ahead of his 80th birthday, Gorbachev criticised Putin for manipulating elections.

In response to the prime minister and former president's comments that he and his protégé, President Dmitry Medvedev, would decide between them who would run for office in March 2012, Gorbachev said: "It's not Putin's business. It must be decided by the nation in elections."

He called Putin's statements a sign of "incredible conceit".

Asked how he thought the regime approached human rights, Gorbachev said: "There's a problem there. It's a sign of the state of our democracy." He was echoing statements made by Navi Pillay, the UN high commissioner for human rights, during a visit to Russia last week.

Gorbachev said United Russia, the ruling party founded with the sole goal of supporting Putin's leadership, was a throwback.

"United Russia reminds me of the worst copy of the Communist party," he said. "We have institutions but they don't work. We have laws but they must be enforced."

Its stranglehold over political life would eventually backfire. "The monopoly ends in rotting and hampers the development of democratic processes."

Gobachev said he did not like how Putin and Medvedev were behaving. "It's a shame that our modern leaders aren't very modern," he said.

Gorbachev now runs a charity foundation that will hold a gala at the Royal Albert Hall in London on 30 March to mark his birthday. He co-owns the country's leading opposition newspaper, Novaya Gazeta.

Held up in the west as a hero for his softening of the Soviet system and eventual acceptance of its fall, Gorbachev remains widely despised inside Russia, where he is seen as a traitor who allowed the empire to crumble and ushered in a period of great uncertainty. Over the years he has aligned himself with the cause of Russia's sidelined liberals.

On Monday, Gorbachev called the regime's campaign against jailed oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky politically motivated. "Politics shouldn't have been involved in [the case], but they were," he said.

He noted the case of Natalya Vasilieva, a court clerk who worked on the Khodorkovsky trial and broke ranks to publicly announce that the judge had been pressured throughout and had a verdict and sentence pushed on him.

"I fully believe her," Gorbachev said. "People can't stand it anymore – she saw what was happening with her own eyes."

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Re: Mikhail Gorbachev lambasts Vladimir Putin's 'sham' democ

Postby Роберт » Mon Feb 21, 2011 11:47 pm UTC

There's corruption in Russia? :shock:

It's interesting that Mikhail G. is talking about it like this, though.
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Re: Mikhail Gorbachev lambasts Vladimir Putin's 'sham' democ

Postby Eseell » Tue Feb 22, 2011 5:16 am UTC

I wonder how much longer Gorbachev has to live?
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Re: Mikhail Gorbachev lambasts Vladimir Putin's 'sham' democ

Postby the_bandersnatch » Tue Feb 22, 2011 10:14 am UTC

Eseell wrote:I wonder how much longer Gorbachev has to live?


It depends, how long does Polonium poisoning take again?
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Re: Mikhail Gorbachev lambasts Vladimir Putin's 'sham' democ

Postby Zamfir » Tue Feb 22, 2011 12:12 pm UTC

I wonder how much longer Gorbachev has to live?

It is not such bad thing to be criticized by someone who is unpopular, especially someone who celebrates his birthday abroad with a party paid for by foreigners. Nothing helps Putin more than the suggestion that Russians who support liberalization are bought by foreigners who want to keep Russia weak.

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Re: Mikhail Gorbachev lambasts Vladimir Putin's 'sham' democ

Postby engr » Tue Feb 22, 2011 2:00 pm UTC

Zamfir wrote:It is not such bad thing to be criticized by someone who is unpopular, especially someone who celebrates his birthday abroad with a party paid for by foreigners

...and who already ruined a country once.
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Re: Mikhail Gorbachev lambasts Vladimir Putin's 'sham' democ

Postby emceng » Tue Feb 22, 2011 2:24 pm UTC

Nice to see someone actually talk about this. Russia is not a democracy. It's much like China, where the party in power has no real opposition, because they kill or imprison anyone that could be a threat.
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Re: Mikhail Gorbachev lambasts Vladimir Putin's 'sham' democ

Postby Diadem » Tue Feb 22, 2011 3:37 pm UTC

Yeah, Gorbachev is absolutely not threat to Putin. He's just too impopular in Russia. He's a hero in the west. But Russians by and large hate him.

I never quite understood that. I can understand the minority of Russians who want the USSR back hating Gorbachev. But even the ones who prefer democracy by and large hate him. Very strange. Well, Russia did get a lot less powerful under his rule. But it's not like that is his fault.
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Re: Mikhail Gorbachev lambasts Vladimir Putin's 'sham' democ

Postby Naurgul » Tue Feb 22, 2011 3:48 pm UTC

Diadem wrote: Well, Russia did get a lot less powerful under his rule. But it's not like that is his fault.

I guess it's correlation, that's probably how the common sentiment works. It doesn't matter how much he caused it; if he was in the wrong place in the wrong time, people will hate him for it.
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Re: Mikhail Gorbachev lambasts Vladimir Putin's 'sham' democ

Postby Zamfir » Tue Feb 22, 2011 4:47 pm UTC

Well, people still say that Reagan "won the cold war", and by that logic Gorbachev lost it.

But I'd say that Gorbachevs popularity in the West is in itself a cause for Russian distrust, especially because Gorbachev clearly enjoys being liked in the west. He sort of moved to the US directly after the fall of the USSR, he let US organizations start a foundation for him (and without that money he wouldn't be able to attract attention nowadays), he accepted the Ronald Reagan Freedom Award in 1992, and lots of other honours too. It's one thing to lose a war, another to allow the former enemy to thank you for it.

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Re: Mikhail Gorbachev lambasts Vladimir Putin's 'sham' democ

Postby Роберт » Tue Feb 22, 2011 9:48 pm UTC

Diadem wrote:Yeah, Gorbachev is absolutely not threat to Putin. He's just too impopular in Russia. He's a hero in the west. But Russians by and large hate him.

I never quite understood that. I can understand the minority of Russians who want the USSR back hating Gorbachev. But even the ones who prefer democracy by and large hate him. Very strange. Well, Russia did get a lot less powerful under his rule. But it's not like that is his fault.

Don't people in the U.S. tend to love or hate their President based strongly on things like the economy, which is largely out of the president's control to effect noticeably by the end of his term? Is it so odd to think Russians might be a bit irrational as well?
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