Russia must democratise to avoid mass unrest: Gorbachev

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

LONDON - Former Soviet Union president Mikhail Gorbachev has called on Russia to democratise, warning that Prime Minister Vladimir Putin’s move to restore the system of strong and centralized state power will lead to mass unrest across the country.

Lashing out at the Kremlin tandem of President Dmitry Medvedev and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, Gorbachev suggested that Russia could be in danger of collapsing as the USSR did in 1990-91 if it fails to implement sweeping democratic reforms.

He warned that millions of dissatisfied Russians could take to the streets.

His warning came in the course of an interview with Snob magazine, which is published by the world’s 39th richest man, mining mogul Mikhail Prokhorov, and aimed at an exclusive audience of the most wealthy Russians, the Christian Science Monitor reports.

“[The country is] a swamp of stagnation, apathy, and corruption. The most dangerous [aspect about] this is that pressure, which is accumulating within our society, can erupt in an instant onto the streets with such force that nobody will escape,” Gorbachev told a meeting of the magazine’s project directors.

He added: “The authorities are not capable of coping with the problems the country faces. They are not able to bring about improvements … The only chance to get out of this stagnation is if the people start to participate in decision making. Without modernization of our institutions of democracy there can be no progress. They are now half dead. Who needs this kind of democracy?”

It may be recalled that Gorbachev had welcomed Putin at first, but urged him to expand the democratic system and make more room for an active civil society. (ANI)

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