Gorbachev Goes Easy on Putin, for Now
Ex-leader defends prez, even as Kremlin rolls back democracy
By Wesley Oliver,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 1, 2007 8:13 PM CST
Russian President Vladimir Putin (L) greets Former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev (2ndR). (MARTIN OESER/AFP/Getty Images)   (Getty Images)
camera-icon View 4 more images

(Newser) – Gorbachev remains pals with Putin, even as the Russian prez pares back reforms that Gorbachev holds dear, the Wall Street Journal reports. The former leader reserves his blame for the Kremlin, and spares Putin, calling him "a very normal person"—even after Moscow shut down Gorbachev's political party and muffled free media. But some critics say Gorbachev now fears for his legacy.

"I think he's secretly worried" about it, says a friend and journalist. "The values of perestroika? They're being savagely destroyed." But Gorbachev owes his current political life to Putin, who gave him a semi-official post after Yeltsin isolated him. One colleague says Gorbachev will openly oppose Putin only if anti-democratic reforms go too far. "He doesn't talk about that and doesn't want to think about it," he says.