|Gorbachev said government and judicial systems are “imitations.’’|
MOSCOW — Former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev yesterday described Russia as an imitation of democracy and accused its rulers of conceit and contempt for voters, in his harshest criticism of the government yet.
Gorbachev criticized Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and his protege, President Dmitry Medvedev, for saying that they will decide between them who should run for president in Russia’s March 2012 presidential vote.
Gorbachev denounced the statements as a show of “incredible conceit’’ and disrespect for 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 at a news conference. “Can’t other people also run?’’
Gorbachev has previously avoided personal criticism of Putin, who has remained Russia’s No. 1 politician after shifting into the premier’s post following two presidential terms.
Putin is widely expected to reclaim the presidency in 2012.
Gorbachev, who will turn 80 next week, said that Russia has only “imitations’’ of a parliament and judicial system.
He called for a probe into last week’s statement by an assistant to the judge who convicted oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky who said that the judge did not write the verdict and read it against his will in the Moscow courtroom.