Russian MPs want Gorbachev probed for treason over USSR breakup

10th April 2014, Comments 0 comments

A group of Russian lawmakers have formally requested prosecutors to probe former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev for treason over the breakup of the Soviet Union, one lawmaker said Thursday.

Ivan Nikitchuk, a lawmaker with the Communist party, said that recent events and the crisis in Ukraine in particular have led several MPs, including some from the ruling party, to ask Prosecutor General Yury Chaika to probe Gorbachev, 83.

"We asked to prosecute him and those who helped him destroy the Soviet Union for treason of national interests," Nikitchuk told AFP, adding that Soviet citizens in 1991 were against the country's breakup.

Seeking to create a more open and prosperous Soviet Union through glasnost and perestroika, Gorbachev ended up inadvertently unleashing forces that swept the country he had sought to preserve from the map and himself from power.

"The consequences of that destruction can be felt today in the conflicts that we have seen" in former Soviet countries over the past two decades "and today, in Ukraine", Nikitchuk said.

In February, a popular pro-Western uprising in Ukraine ousted pro-Moscow president Viktor Yanukovych, who has since taken refuge in Russia.

The Kremlin responded by sending troops to Ukraine's Russian-speaking peninsula of Crimea and annexing it last month.

"What is happening in Ukraine can happen in Russia, too," said Nikitchuk. "This pushed us to write to the Prosecutor General, so that professional lawyers rather than historians investigate the events of 1991."

There have been previous attempts by the Communist party to have Gorbachev prosecuted but they have led nowhere.

Nikitchuk said he hoped that the current political climate makes for a more favourable moment and that prosecutors would launch the investigation this time.

Unlike the previous cases, the current request is backed by two lawmakers from Russian President Vladimir Putin's ruling party United Russia.

A spokeswoman at the prosecutor's office declined to comment.

The Soviet Union officially ceased to exist in December 1991 after Russia, Belarus and Ukraine signed the Belavezha accords dissolving the USSR.

Gorbachev resigned two weeks later.

© 2014 AFP

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