Gorbachev calls Putin "a bad copy of the Soviet Communist Party."
MOSCOW (AP) — Former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev has criticized the government for taking Russia backward and said the nation needs free elections and a fresh leadership.
Gorbachev was speaking Wednesday ahead of the 20th anniversary of Aug. 19, 1991, hardline coup that briefly ousted him and precipitated the collapse of the Soviet Union.
Gorbachev criticized the United Russia party led by Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, which he described as a bad copy of the Soviet Communist Party.
He said Russia needs to restore direct elections of governors and single-ballot elections to the parliament, which were abolished during Putin's presidency.
Gorbachev also argued that the nation needs a change in leadership. Putin is widely expected to reclaim the presidency next year.