- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 26, 2001

LONDON (AP) Ten years after he stepped down as president of the Soviet Union, Mikhail Gorbachev called the man who replaced him in the Kremlin an untrustworthy liar, saying Boris Yeltsin even had his phone tapped.
"While Yeltsin was in office, he tried to control everything I did," Mr. Gorbachev told the British Broadcasting Corp. in an interview televised yesterday, on the anniversary of his resignation, which put an end to the Soviet Union.
"My phones were bugged; regional governors were told not to meet me; I was even banned from appearing on live television," said Mr. Gorbachev, who ceded power to Mr. Yeltsin, the Russian president.
The enmity between the two men goes back to the 1980s, when Mr. Gorbachev brought Mr. Yeltsin to Moscow as party chief and then fired him in a dispute about the pace of reforms. In the interview, Mr. Gorbachev recited a bitter litany of complaints about Mr. Yeltsin.
"He always said he was against the idea of privileges, but Russian czars didn't have the kind of privileges that Yeltsin had," Mr. Gorbachev said. "Yeltsin is a strange man, full of tricks, and he's a liar, you just can't trust him."
Like many Russians who see Mr. Yeltsin as an ineffectual leader who let corruption thrive, Mr. Gorbachev praised Mr. Yeltsin's hand-picked successor, President Vladimir Putin.
He said Mr. Putin has helped bring stability to a battered Russia and praised his "bold" moves toward a warmer relationship with the United States.
Mr. Gorbachev also suggested his relationship with Mr. Putin is warmer than his soured connection to Mr. Yeltsin, who sometimes seemed eager to ignore or humiliate him after his resignation. Under Mr. Putin, he said, he received a special hot line he can use to call the Kremlin.
"Putin is clearly a talented and mature politician he's cautious, and he knows how to listen," Mr. Gorbachev said. "Sometimes, he and I get together to discuss different issues."
The last leader of the Soviet Union recalled his resignation as "the most dramatic day of my life."
"In human terms, it was a real blow," he said. "I had to keep calm, but inside I was full of emotion."

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