Gorbachev: Russia Needs Real Democracy

Medvedev, Putin need to change process, ex-Soviet leader writes
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 5, 2008 2:21 PM CST
Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) talks to former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev (L) prior to a joint press conference of German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder and Putin at Gottorf castle in Schleswig,...   (Getty Images)
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(Newser) – Mikhail Gorbachev is pushing Russia's leaders to change their ways. Writing today for the Times of London, Gorbachev praises Vladimir Putin’s accomplishments as president, and acknowledges the soon-to-be prime minister's popularity. But Russia still faces big problems, which “can only be solved in an environment of real democracy.” The system needs to be reformed and “not just by tinkering.”

Gorbachev takes a measured tone. “I am not calling for a ‘kick the bastards out’ campaign,” he writes. But he rejects naysayers who believe Russia needs a “firm hand.” “Our people are more democratic than you think,” he says. “They will make the right choices.” Tackling foreign policy, he said Russia should change, but the West should lay off “anti-Russian stereotypes.”