Tuesday, September 19, 2006

"I should have been as tough as Putin": Gorbachev

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev said on Tuesday he supported tough measures taken by Russian President Vladimir Putin and wished he had adopted them.

Gorbachev, whose political reforms led to the collapse of the communist empire, said he should have squashed the challenge from Boris Yeltsin, his arch-rival and subsequently first Russian president, by sending him into diplomatic exile.

And he said separatist outbreaks that plagued his last years in power should have been crushed by taking their leaders to court.

"I now support Putin as far as resorting to tough measures to maintain stability is concerned," he said.

Putin, who succeeded Yeltsin in 2000, has moved to restore Kremlin control over Russia, lost in the first post-Soviet decade marked by unending political crises and economic hardships for the majority of the population.

In achieving his goals, Putin has subdued political opposition and put political forces, government and regional administrations under strong Kremlin control triggering Western fears that Russia could be backtracking on democracy.

Putin has described the collapse of the Soviet Union as "one of the greatest geo-political catastrophes of the 20th century".

No comments: