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Friday, September 17, 2004

The Moscow News > Mikhail Gorbachev and Boris Yeltsin Speak out Against PutinÂ’s Reforms

Created: 16.09.2004 23:59 MSK (GMT +3), Updated: 11:01 MSK, 39 minutes ago
The Soviet UnionÂ’s last president Mikhail Gorbachev and RussiaÂ’s first president Boris Yeltsin expressed criticism regarding Vladimir PutinÂ’s proposed reforms of RussiaÂ’s electoral system.
The statements by Yeltsin and Gorbachev were made in exclusive interviews to Moskovskie Novosti (The Moscow News) weekly, and will be published in the paperÂ’s Friday issue. MosNews, which is a partner publication of Moskovskie Novosti, posted a full translation of both statements on our website on Thursday.

Our common goal is to do everything possible to make sure that bills, which, in essence, mean a step back from democracy, don’t come into force as law. I hope that the politicians, voters, and the president himself keep the democratic freedoms that were so hard to obtain, — reads Mikhail Gorbachev’s statement. The Soviet Union’s last president, who ruled the country from 1985 to 1992, is convinced that Russian authorities “must search for political solutions, negotiate with the middle-of-the-road militants, separating them from the unappeasable extremists”.

His successor Boris Yeltsin, whose second presidential term ended on December 31, 1999, with a surprise announcement of his voluntary resignation (Vladimir Putin was named acting president for three months before being elected in March 2000), called on the Kremlin to refrain from undermining the existing constitutional framework, despite the necessity of fighting terrorist threats.

I firmly believe that the measures that the country’s leadership will undertake after Beslan will remain within the framework of democratic freedoms that have become Russia’s most valuable achievement over the past decade. We will not give up on the letter of the law, and most importantly, the spirit of the Constitution our country voted for at the public referendum in 1993. If only because the stifling of freedom and the curtailing of democratic rights is a victory by the terrorists. Only a democratic country can successfully resist terrorism and count on standing shoulder to shoulder with all of the world’s civilized countries, — Yeltsin says in his statement.

Boris YeltsinÂ’s statement is viewed as a surprise move by many observers in Moscow. Unlike Mikhail Gorbachev, who is still active on Russian political scene, Yeltsin chose to refrain from public comments about Vladimir PutinÂ’s politics after his retirement. Recently Boris Berezovsky, an exiled tycoon, renowned for his criticism of the Kremlin and Putin, published an open letter to RussiaÂ’s first president, urging him to speak up and reminding him of his responsibility for the establishment of Russian constitutional democracy. Yeltsin makes no mention of Berezovsky in his statement, but some observers are linking his decision to break his silence with the exiled oligarchÂ’s request.
16.09.2004 21:56 MSK, MOSNEWS.COM
Boris Yeltsin: "We Will Not Give Up On the Spirit of the Constitution"
16.09.2004 21:56 MSK, MOSNEWS.COM
Mikhail Gorbachev on Putin's Reforms: "A Step Back from Democracy"
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Grieving in Beslan
As the town of Beslan continues to hold funerals in the aftermath of the siege that resulted in over 350 dead and over 600 injured, local residents take comfort in tradition. Their quiet and friendly town will never be the same.
Who Framed President Putin?
Vladimir Putin has outlined plans to end the direct election of regional governors as part of efforts to “strengthen the effectiveness of the authorities” in combating terrorism. However, Putin’s aides appear to have forgotten that back in 1996 the Constitutional Court of Russia ruled that governors could only be elected by direct popular vote.
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Mikhail Gorbachev on Putin’s Reforms: “A Step Back from Democracy”
“Under the motto of war on terror, there are suggestions of sharply limiting democratic freedoms,” said Mikhail Gorbachev, the USSR’s last leader, to Moscow News reporter Ludmila Telen.
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Boris Yeltsin: “We Will Not Give Up On the Spirit of the Constitution”
“Only a democratic country can successfully resist terrorism,” Russian ex-President Boris Yeltsin told Moscow News reporter Ludmila Telen in the wake of the bloodshed in Beslan and the government’s reaction.

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