Gorbachev has grown increasingly outspoken about Russia's vulnerabilities to Egypt-like unrest, warning in the past that Russia could collapse without sweeping democratic reforms. He describes Russia as a throwback to Soviet times, with muzzled media, sham elections, a Potemkin parliament, a Kremlin monopoly of power, and a corrupt ruling party that's a "bad copy" of the former Soviet Communist Party.
In a Moscow press conference Monday, Gorbachev slammed the political system built by Prime Minister Vladimir Putin as an elaborate fraud. "We have everything – a parliament, courts, a president, and a prime minister, but these all are to a great extent just an imitation," he said. In another interview he said that Russia's democratic facade is a "cover for arbitrary rule and [official] abuse ... society has been broken, it's accepted the falsehoods."
Russia is heading into an intense political season, with regional polls next month, elections for a new Duma (parliament) in December, and a presidential vote in just over a year from a field that has not yet declared a single candidate.