"Putin wants to stay in power," said Mikhail Gorbachev, the former President of the Soviet Union who moved Russia into democracy.
Of course, this statement is no surprise. Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and his United Russia party have de facto control of the country, and have no plans to relinquish it any time soon. With elections scheduled for next year, both Putin and President Dmitri Medvedev, also of the United Russia party, have already announced their intention to run, although for which positions is it unclear.
But Gorbachev, speaking to German magazine Der Spiegel, wasn't finished. The Noble Peace Prize laureate said that Putin's policies, paired with his thirst for power, are failing the state and bringing Russia closer to its Communist past than to a bright future.
"Putin wants to stay in power, but not to resolve at long last our most pressing problems - education, medicine and poverty," Gorbachev stated.
"United Russia wants to maintain the status quo, there is no progress... They are pulling us back into the past, while the country urgently needs modernization."
"People are not consulted, and parties are mere puppets of the regime," he added.
After the fall of the Soviet Union, Gorbachev welcomed Putin into Russian politics. Putin became the President of the Russian Federation in 2000, when Boris Yeltsin resigned. He was re-elected in 2004 and then appointed Prime Minister in 2008.
Russia has faced significant economic and social hardship since democracy was established. Putin rose to power promising to fix such problems, but in many respects change has been slow.
"Russian democracy will advance - albeit with pain and much difficulty," Gorbachev said. "We have only gone half-way."