Gorbachev 'very concerned' over democracy in Russia
Former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev criticised Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin's party and said the country was "only half way" to democracy in a BBC interview broadcast Wednesday.
The Nobel Peace Prize winner added that there were "problems" with democracy in Russia and predicted the country would suffer due to what he said were frictions between Putin and President Dmitry Medvedev.
"I'm very concerned. We're only half way down the road from a totalitarian regime to democracy and freedom," said Gorbachev, speaking through a translator.
"The battle continues, there are still many people in our country who fear democracy and would prefer a totalitarian regime. Democracy is experiencing problems.
"For example, Russians no longer have the chance to directly elect the regional governors and the ruling party, United Russia, led by Vladimir Putin, has been doing everything it can to move away from democracy to stay in power."
On the relationship between Medvedev and Putin, he added: "They're working in tandem but recently Medvedev has been showing more independence and there seems to be some frictions between them and that's not good.
"The country will be worse off because of it."
Gorbachev became general secretary of the Communist Party, the most powerful position in the Soviet Union, in 1985 and was the last president of the Soviet Union, in charge during events including the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989.
He has previously accused the Russian authorities of backsliding on democracy and said Putin's party was "like the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, only worse."
© 2010 AFP