London: Former Soviet leader Mikhail
Gorbachev criticised Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin`s
party and said the country was "only half way" to democracy,
in an interview broadcast on 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
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."