Medvedev rebuffs Gorbachev's warning of 'Egyptian scenario' in Russia. Who's right?
Former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev is outspoken about Russia's vulnerabilities to 'the Egyptian scenario' – something the Kremlin denies.
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Russia is heading into an intense political season, with regional polls next month, elections for a new Duma (parliament) in December, and a presidential vote in just over a year from a field that has not yet declared a single candidate.Skip to next paragraph
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Democracit reform needed, says finance minister
Last week, Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin said Russia was not meeting economic growth targets and that foreign investment fell sharply in 2010, suggesting this is happening because Russia lacks sufficient democratic legitimacy to carry out needed reforms.
It is important, he told an economic conference, that the upcoming elections be "fair and honest, that they represent all leading political forces of society. Only this will give the mandate of confidence that is necessary for economic reforms," he said. "If a lack of confidence emerges, we will be unable to fulfill our tasks properly."
That drew a tough rebuke from leaders of the ruling party United Russia, who saw it as an attack on their party's electoral monopoly on the use of government resources and state media as well as – it has been frequently alleged – outright fraud to dominate virtually all the country's legislatures, from the Duma down to small municipal councils.
Tough words for Putin and Medvedev
United Russia is headed by Prime Minister Putin, but its membership is so heavy with officials and others who depend on state largesse that critics describe it as a "trade union for bureaucrats."
Gorbachev described the party, which is headed by Putin, as a "rotting monopoly" that is hampering Russia's democratic development. "United Russia reminds me of a bad copy of the Soviet Communist Party," which Gorbachev himself once led, he added.
But he reserved his toughest words for Putin and Medvedev, who have pledged to decide between themselves which of them will run for president next year.
Gorbachev called that "incredible conceit" and a show of deep disrespect for Russian voters.
"It's not Putin's business. It must be decided by the nation in the elections, by those who would cast ballots," Gorbachev said. "Can't other people also run?"
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