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 softening of the communist system and subsequent dissolution of the Soviet Union, 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.”