In an interview with Radio Svoboda released on Feb. 1, former Russian President Mikhail Gorbachev spoke out against current President Vladimir Putin and Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, according to EurActiv. He accused the two of orchestrating a corrupt system of electoral politics and exercising “rule by fear,” adding that he was “ashamed” of the current state of governance in Russia.
Gorbachev, who is famous for the reforms that ultimately led to the dismantling of the Soviet Union in 1991, spoke with Lyudmila Telen, editor-in-chief of the Radio Svoboda website, about government corruption and public policy in Russia under Putin and Medvedev. According to Gorbachev, the current Russian system allows Putin to take advantage of personal connections and exercise control through the use of a strong military presence.
“[Putin rules with] friends from school, with people with whom he played football on the same street,” Gorbachev told Radio Svoboda. “For me, this style of 'personal relations' is unacceptable.”
In the interview, Gorbachev explained his support for electoral reforms that would give the Russian people more of a voice in their government, rather than a political system that allows the country’s leaders to rule “manually.”
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“The supremacy of security structures, their excessive prerogatives in deciding political issues, and in interfering in people's lives, is unacceptable, is over the top,” Gorbachev said.
Telen pushed Gorbachev to elaborate on his belief that the electoral system was corrupt, emphasizing that elections in the country are fully democratic. Gorbachev cited the switch-off between Putin and Medvedev, who have alternated serving as president and prime minister since 1998, as an example of rampant corruption in Russia.
“I am ashamed for them,” Gorbachev told Telen. “They act in an indecent way. As if there was no society, as there was no constitution, no election system. They all decide between them ... But where are we, 140 million? I don’t like that. But they believe they are the saviors of the motherland.”