Former Soviet president Mikhail Gorbachev launched a thinly-veiled attack on Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin on Wednesday by saying the country needs new leadership.
Gorbachev said Putin should not seek a third term as Russian president as it would breach the constitution.
“I believe there should be a change (renewal) in the top leadership,” he said. “We introduced this (law on term limits) during Perestroika times: there should be two (presidential) terms – and that’s it.”
The 80-year-old former leader said his country was going “backwards” under the current government. “We need free elections,” he said. “People must feel something depends on them.”
Gorbachev was speaking ahead of the 20th anniversary of a failed coup by hardline communists against his leadership. The plotters opposed his economic and democratic reforms.
Resistance to the coup was led by Boris Yeltsin, who later became the first president of Russia after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.