Former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, who resigned as president 20 years ago, has urged Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin to listen to the protesters’ demands and step down.
“I would advise Vladimir Putin to step down now,” Gorbachev said on Saturday.
“It has been enough. Three terms, two terms as president and another term as prime minister. Three terms, that’s enough. Because, otherwise, the circles (close to powerful leaders) and clans form,” Gorbachev added.
The 80-year-old Nobel Peace Prize winner pointed out that Putin must follow his example as he decided to quit 20 years ago after it became clear that the Soviet system could no longer survive.
Gorbachev said if Putin steps down now he would be remembered for the positive things he did during his 12 years in power.
Gorbachev’s comments came after tens of thousands of Russians took to the streets of Moscow on Saturday participating in the second nationwide protest against the allegedly fraudulent parliamentary election held on December 4.
In the vote, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin’s ruling party, the United Russia, won nearly 50 percent, but saw a reduction in support as it lost a quarter of its seats in the parliament.
This comes while Putin has accused the United States of encouraging and financing the protesters.
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev is reportedly due to become prime minister under a prospective Putin presidency in March 2012 — a job swap bitterly criticized by the opposition.
Putin’s presidency ended in 2008 after two consecutive terms because the Russian constitution prevented him from running a third term, however he will be free to run again in 2012.
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