- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 7, 2013

Mikhail Gorbachev, who led the Soviet Union from 1985 until its dissolution in 1991, had a few words of advice for Russian President Vladimir Putin: Quit being so scared of constituents.
Mr. Putin was re-elected to a third term last year over the objections of political protesters who say he’s stifled free speech.

He recently pushed for the passage of laws expanding the definition of treason, which Mr. Gorbachev says only proves Mr. Putin is deeply concerned about his country’s protests and his ability to maintain power, United Press International reports.
“I get the feeling he’s very tense and worried,” Mr. Gorbachev said. “Not everything is going well. I think he should change his style and make adjustments to the regime.”
Mr. Gorbachev didn’t specify what those regime changes should entail. But he did refer to last month’s house arrest of Russian dissident Sergei Udaltsov as an example of what Mr. Putin should avoid, or rise above. Mr. Gorbachev also cited Mr. Putin’s recent accusation that the leader of the Left Front movement is engaging in a plot against the government.
Mr. Putin shouldn’t waste time cracking down on cases like these because they fuel perceptions that he’s afraid of political opponents, Mr. Gorbachev said, according to the UPI report.

“What people want and expect their president to do is to restore an open, direct dialogue with them,” Mr. Gorbachev said.

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