|Gorbachev was quoted in a newspaper interview.|
MOSCOW - Mikhail Gorbachev, the former Soviet leader, has harshly criticized recent regional elections in Russia, describing them as a mockery of democracy in an interview published yesterday.
Gorbachev said the Oct. 11 vote had discredited Russia’s political system, according to Novaya Gazeta newspaper. “The elections have turned into a mockery of the people and showed utter disrespect for their votes,’’ Gorbachev said. “The result which the ruling party needed was achieved through the discrediting of political institutions and the party itself.’’
The United Russia party, led by Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, swept the Oct. 11 ballot by winning more than 7,000 local elections in 75 of Russia’s 83 regions. United Russia is a power base for Putin.
Independent election observers and opposition parties, including the Communists, insisted there were mass electoral violations during the voting. They cited evidence of multiple voting and ballot stuffing, while opposition candidates claimed they were hindered from campaigning.
The election results prompted all parliament factions except United Russia to briefly walk out in protest last week. It was the first such protest in the Kremlin-controlled parliament in nearly a decade. Gorbachev has criticized United Russia in the past, saying that it is less democratic than even the Soviet Communist Party he once led. But he avoided personal criticism of Putin.