Gorbachev Says Putin Obstructs Democracy

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MOSCOW — Mikhail S. Gorbachev, who once supported Prime Minister Vladimir V. Putin, is voicing growing frustration with Mr. Putin’s leadership, saying that he had undermined Russia’s fledgling democracy by crippling the opposition forces.

“He thinks that democracy stands in his way,” Mr. Gorbachev said.

“I am afraid that they have been saddled with this idea that this unmanageable country needs authoritarianism,” Mr. Gorbachev said, referring to Mr. Putin and his close ally, President Dmitri A. Medvedev. “They think they cannot do without it.”

In an interview, Mr. Gorbachev even described Mr. Putin’s governing party, United Russia, as a “a bad copy of the Soviet Communist Party.” Mr. Gorbachev said party officials were concerned entirely with clinging to power and did not want Russians to take part in civic life....

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