...Russia could collapse without sweeping democratic reforms. He [Gorbachev] describes Russia as a throwback to Soviet times, with muzzled media, sham elections, a Potemkin parliament, a Kremlin monopoly of power, and a corrupt ruling party that's a "bad copy" of the former Soviet Communist Party.In a Moscow press conference Monday, Gorbachev slammed the political system built by Prime Minister Vladimir Putin as an elaborate fraud. "We have everything – a parliament, courts, a president, and a prime minister, but these all are to a great extent just an imitation," he said. In another interview he said that Russia's democratic facade is a "cover for arbitrary rule and [official] abuse ... society has been broken, it's accepted the falsehoods."
... he reserved his toughest words for Putin and Medvedev, who have pledged to decide between themselves which of them will run for president next year.
Gorbachev called that "incredible conceit" and a show of deep disrespect for Russian voters.
"It's not Putin's business. It must be decided by the nation in the elections, by those who would cast ballots," Gorbachev said. "Can't other people also run?"
My feeling is that the Russian people made a huge error when they didn't go along with Gorbachev when he was still in power. He wanted a sort of Democratic Socialist Russia, which would have been vastly better than what Russia has today. I don't agree with him entirely, but he really has never received the credit he deserves relative to others and from the Russians themselves.
Of course, the real villain in the story is George H. W. Bush and his lack of the "vision thing." Bush should have rushed in with huge aid rather than allow Russia to crumble into an economic basket case headed by an alcoholic, Boris Yeltsin, who didn't realize what he was doing vis-a-vis "market economics" and from whom oligarchs ended up extracting whatever they wanted for pennies on the dollar. The Russian people would have been eternally grateful, and the US would have been able to completely disarm toward Russia. It would have been a huge peace dividend for the whole world.
Bush though had a dark vision for Russia, and Russia was plunged into a severe and unnecessary depression that led to Putin coming in and then having to swing things away from the open democratic vision as a reaction to the unbridled greed of predatory capitalists.
Now Gorbachev is calling for what he had in mind at the very end of his term when one-party command and control had collapsed. So, he wants Russia to strike a new balance.
It is the only way forward since the people don't yet have sufficiently soft hearts to give and share all with all absent coercion. Someday.