RUSSIA NEEDS 'FRESH WAVE'

MOSCOW - Former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev has appealed to the Kremlin to make Russia more democratic, saying President Dmitry Medvedev's push to modernise the country would not succeed otherwise.

MOSCOW - Former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev has appealed to the Kremlin to make Russia more democratic, saying President Dmitry Medvedev's push to modernise the country would not succeed otherwise.

Gorbachev, the author of the bold reforms which triggered the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union, said that Russia now needed a fresh wave of "glasnost" (openness) and "perestroika" (restructuring).

Gorbachev's call comes as a growing number of voices within the Russian elite are calling for political reform to accompany efforts to modernise and diversify the oil-dependent economy.

Active overseas, he has a low public profile in Russia and is frank about his disappointment that his countrymen do not view him more fondly.

In Moscow, he sponsors a small pro-democracy political party and a radical opposition newspaper.

Gorbachev, who has grown more portly and speaks softly and slowly, said Russia had fallen behind major powers and compared the country's dependence on oil revenues and its inability to build a competitive economy to the situation he inherited when he became Soviet leader in 1985 at the age of 54. - Reuters

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