Mikhail Gorbachev warns that Russia is in danger of backsliding into the dark days of the Soviet Union in a critical op-ed piece that seems aimed directly at Vladimir Putin. The country's parliament is no better than a rubber stamp, its courts lack independence, and there's still no real party system. "There is a growing feeling that the government is afraid of civil society and would like to control everything," Gorbachev writes on the 25th anniversary of his perestroika reforms.
"I sense alarm in the words of President Dmitri Medvedev," who warned of a "primitive economy" and a society grown complacent because the government runs everything. "I agree with the president," Gorbachev writes in the New York Times. "I agree with his goal of modernization. But it will not happen if people are sidelined, if they are just pawns. If the people are to feel and act like citizens, there is only one prescription: democracy, including the rule of law and an open and honest dialogue between the government and the people." (Read more Mikhail Gorbachev stories.)