MOSCOW, November 21. /TASS/. The USSR’s first and only President, Mikhail Gorbachev, positively assessed Vladimir Putin’s role in the history of Russia, but warned the Russian leader against repeating his mistakes.
“Putin played a big role in stabilization of the situation after Yeltsin, when saving Russia against disintegration was in fact the point at issue,” Gorbachev said, presenting on Wednesday his new book “After the Kremlin”.
Although “authoritarian methods” had been used, “Putin’s goal met the interests of the majority,” he said. “We have a president, an accomplished president, but it seems that he begins suffering from the same disease I was suffering at that time (during perestroika) - self-assurance,” Gorbachev said.
“It seemed that we had caught God by his beard,” he said recalling the epoch when he was at the helm, launching perestroika which ended with his being removed from power.
“Get off your high horse,” he said, addressing the audience, adding that this was what failed him in due time.
According to Mikhail Gorbachev, authoritarian means in the activity of top government agencies are seen increasingly often in Russia nowadays. “I don’t think this is correct,” he noted.
Gorbachev said he was confident that there was no return to the past. “People, especially young people, have grown up in conditions of glasnost, and nobody can return them to the times in which we lived,” he said.
Crowds of people flocked to Moskva book store in central Moscow on Wednesday to attend the presentation, and hundreds queued for Gorbachev’s autograph session. The 83-year-old former president was in an excellent mood.
Recalling the pressure put on him after his removal from power, Gorbachev said “I withstood, and by the way I have plans to go on living”. “I invite you to my 90th birthday, and I am sure I will live to that date,” Gorbachev said.