Thursday, 7 March 2013

Gorbachev on Putin's inner circle: "there are so many thieves and corrupt officials there"

Former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev says that he is "astonished" by the number of controversial laws passed in Russia since Vladimir Putin's return to the Kremlin. Gorbachev describes the laws, which include fines for organizing unsanctioned protests, stiffer libel penalties, a wider definition of treason ans restrictions on websites, as an "attack on citizens' rights". 

"The common thread running through all of them is an attack on the rights of citizens," he told the BBC. "For goodness sake, you shouldn't be afraid of your own people."

"What people want and expect their president to do is to restore an open, direct dialogue with them. He shouldn't take offence at this."
"He should concentrate on trying to drag Russia out of the difficult situation that she is in," Mr Gorbachev added. --
In the BBC interview, Mr Gorbachev claimed that Mr Putin "sometimes loses his temper".
"Once he said that 'Gorbachev's tongue should be cut short'."
"I get the feeling that he is very tense and bored. Not everything is going well. I think he should change his style and make readjustments to the regime," he added.
Mr Gorbachev also expressed concern about the president's entourage.
"Even the inner circle, those by his side, there are so many thieves and corrupt officials there," he said. "If things don't change, Russia will continue to drift like a piece of ice in the Arctic Ocean."
Read the entire article here
The former Soviet leader's criticism of the recent attacks on citizens' rights is most welcome. And Gorbachev is right about Putin's inner circle being full of "thieves and corrupt officials". 
The BBC says that Gorbachev's recent criticism has "not gone down well in the corridors of power" in Russia. That is of course true. Had the former Soviet leader been an ordinary opposition figure, he would already have ended up in prison or some other unpleasant location. 
Gorbachev knows that his international status protects him, but only to a certain degree. That is why he restricts himself to calling people in Putin's inner circle "thieves and corrupt officials", although he most certainly knows that the biggest thief and most corrupt official is dictator Vladimir Putin himself. 
And Gorbachev also must know that only Putin's removal from power will prevent Russia from continuing to "drift like a piece of ice in the Arctic Ocean".

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