Gorbachev Warns Putin's 'Authoritarian' Party Rigging Elections

Thursday, 24 Nov 2011 01:18 PM

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BERLIN—Former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev says Russia's upcoming elections won't be fair, and he blasted the "authoritarian" rule of Vladimir Putin in Russia in a Wall Street Journal interview.

Gorbachev told the Journal Tuesday that he believed an authoritarian government was necessary to pull Russia together in 2000 when Putin first came to power. At the time, he brushed off concerns from a French colleague that Putin would "make a habit" of such tactics.

The Kremlin's "habit" of authoritarianism is now "a very dangerous thing," he said.

Now "we in Russia are forced to seriously struggle to strengthen democracy, ensure honest elections, the independence of the judiciary and many other things," Gorbachev said.

Putin's United Russia party is virtually certain to win parliamentary elections in December, and Putin plans to return to the presidency in 2012 elections. Gorbachev says both the official turnout and the final election results will be determined ahead of the vote. "The elections will not be fair," Gorbachev says.

Gorbachev has told reporters that democracy must be built from within the nation, without interference from foreign powers.

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