The former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev says if things don’t change in Russia after it holds presidential elections, there will be more protests.
In a lecture at Moscow’s International University on Thursday, Gorbachev also had some harsh words for Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.
Putin will more than likely become president, Gorbachev said, according to the AP. “If he does not overcome himself, change the way things are — and I think it will be difficult for him to do that — then everything will end up on city squares.”
Gobachev then added: “He won’t carry that weight. By now he has exhausted himself.”
Russia Today reports that Gorbachev was even more direct in a television interview on Wednesday. “Putin must resign, but something is now in his way,” he said. “I think we must hold this responsible dialogue of historical scale to the end, so that we exit the period where we have a very hard life. I hope we will manage this.”
Protests have broken out in Russia in response to December’s parliamentary elections, which protesters said were rigged. The mass protests are the biggest Russia has seen in two decades and they are biggest threat to Putin’s hold on power to date. Putin was president from 2000 to 2008 and since then he has been prime minister. Back in December, Gorbachev called on new elections.
The AP reminds us that while Gorbachev, who led the Soviet Union from 1985 to its collapse in 1991, is widely admired abroad, he is “regarded as insignificant at home and his comments are not likely to threaten Putin’s grip on power.”