Gorbachev accuses Putin of conceit, disrespect for democracy

MOSCOW — Former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev on Monday described Russia as an imitation of democracy and accused its current rulers of conceit and contempt for voters, in his harshest criticism of the government yet.

MOSCOW — Former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev on Monday described Russia as an imitation of democracy and accused its current rulers of conceit and contempt for voters, in his harshest criticism of the government yet.

Gorbachev criticized Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and his protege, President Dmitry Medvedev, for saying that they will decide between them who should run for president in Russia’s March 2012 presidential vote.

Gorbachev denounced the statements as a show of “incredible conceit” and disrespect for voters.

“It’s not Putin’s business. It must be decided by the nation in the elections, by those who would cast ballots,” Gorbachev said at a news conference. “Can’t other people also run?”

Gorbachev has previously avoided personal criticism of Putin, who has remained Russia’s No. 1 politician after shifting into the premier’s post following two presidential terms. Putin is widely expected to reclaim the presidency in 2012.

Gorbachev, who will turn 80 next week, said that Russia has only “imitations” of a parliament and judicial system.

He called for a probe into last week’s statement by an assistant to the judge who convicted oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky who said that the judge did not write the verdict and read it against his will in the Moscow courtroom.

Judge Viktor Danilkin found Khodorkovsky guilty in December of stealing oil from his own oil company and extended his prison term through 2017.

The assistant, Natalya Vasilyeva, who is also the spokesperson for the court, said the verdict was imposed upon Danilkin when it became clear his own ruling would not please top Russian officials behind the politically driven case.

“I fully trust her,” Gorbachev said of Vasilyeva.

Khodorkovsky said in remarks published Monday in the weekly Kommersant Vlast magazine that he pitied the judge as man who had been “brutally broken.”

“Putin still considers me a dangerous political and personal opponent,” Khodorkovsky said in written remarks to the magazine’s questions.

Putin has been seen as the driving force behind the unrelenting legal attack on Khodorkovsky, who challenged him early in his presidency and has been imprisoned since 2003. Shortly before the verdict was announced, Putin called Khodorkovsky a thief and said he should stay in prison.

Gorbachev said Monday that Khodorkovsky’s case had clear political roots, tracing it back to the tycoon’s criticism of Putin. “Politics shouldn’t have been involved in that, but they were,” he said.

Gorbachev also denounced the main pro-Kremlin United Russia party as a “bad copy” of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union and warned that the government’s efforts to sideline political opponents could backfire.

“The monopoly ends in rotting and hampers economic development,” he said.

Gorbachev, who is revered in the West for the role he played in ending the Cold War, is disliked by many at home for the collapse of the Soviet Union and the years of social and economic turmoil that followed it.

He said that the uprisings that toppled the leaders of Tunisia and Egypt, and continue spreading across the Arab world, have many things in common with the collapse of Communism.

“People are striving for a better life,” he said. “They have nothing to lose.”

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Nearly five per cent of Alberta businesses did not survive the first 10 months of the pandemic. (Black Press File photo).
Nearly 5% of Alberta businesses closed during 2020 pandemic

Will more closures happen before it’s over?

Red Deer Rebels forward Arshdeep Bains eyes a loose puck in front of the Medicine Hat Tigers net Saturday night in WHL action at the Centrium. (Photo by ROB WALLATOR/Red Deer Rebels)
Rebels fall short in 12th straight loss

Tigers 5 Rebels 2 (Saturday) Tigers 3 Rebels 2 (Monday) The Red… Continue reading

Public health restrictions on non-essential travel and vacation bookings are being increased in B.C. (B.C. government)
COVID-19: B.C. announces signage along Alberta border to discourage non-essential travel

B.C. extends COVID-19 indoor dining, group fitness ban until May 25

Red Deer property owners will receive their 2019 property assessment notices in the next few days.  (File photo by Advocate staff)
Red Deer awaiting more details on how federal budget impacts city

The City of Red Deer is awaiting more information on how much… Continue reading

A vial of the Medicago vaccine sits on a surface. CARe Clinic, located in Red Deer, has been selected to participate in the third phase of vaccine study. (Photo courtesy www.medicago.com)
Red Deer clinical research centre participating in plant-based COVID-19 vaccine trial

A Red Deer research centre has been selected to participate in the… Continue reading

Letters
Letter: Restrictions have nothing to do with religion

Many have framed the closure of GraceLife Church near Edmonton by Alberta… Continue reading

LtE bug
Letter: Thanking volunteers in Red Deer

National Volunteer Week is April 18 to 24. At the Canadian Cancer… Continue reading

Letter to the editor
Letter: Good on MLAs for speaking out

This is a letter in regard to MLAs not standing united behind… Continue reading

Treena Mielke
Family: Happiness can be found in many ways

I’ve heard it said that necessity is the mother of invention. I… Continue reading

Ottawa Senators' Connor Brown, right, scores on Calgary Flames goalie Jacob Markstrom during second-period NHL hockey action in Calgary, Alta., Monday, April 19, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Connor Brown scores twice for Ottawa Senators in 4-2 win over Calgary Flames

Connor Brown scores twice for Ottawa Senators in 4-2 win over Calgary Flames

Canada head coach Bev Priestman reacts during the women's international friendly soccer match between England and Canada at Bet365 stadium in Stoke on Trent, England, Tuesday, April 13, 2021. Priestman says her goal is to help Canada move up the Olympic podium after back-to-back bronze medals at the 2012 and 2016 Games. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Rui Vieira
Olympic soccer draw will allow Canadians to start planning on and off the pitch

Olympic soccer draw will allow Canadians to start planning on and off the pitch

Federal government’s extension of CEWS in budget is some good news for CFL franchises

Federal government’s extension of CEWS in budget is some good news for CFL franchises

Canada's Brendan Bottcher dropped a 6-3 decision to Scotland's Bruce Mouat in the men's final of the Humpty's Champions Cup. Bottcher makes a shot against Scotland at the Men's World Curling Championships in Calgary, Alta., Friday, April 9, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Mixed results for Canadian teams at Champions Cup as Homan wins, Bottcher loses

Mixed results for Canadian teams at Champions Cup as Homan wins, Bottcher loses

Most Read