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Former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev has criticized the initiatives of Russia's
Former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev has criticized the initiatives of Russia's pro-Kremlin United Russia party during a meeting with students at a Moscow university on Friday.

Gorbachev, who was the Communist Party's general secretary from 1985 to 1991, said the United Russia party's political course was "the worst variant of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union."

He said the State Duma, Russia's parliament, had introduced many limitations on creating other parties to reinforce United Russia's dominance.

"We will never again return to being a single-party [state], though they will try to pull us in that direction," he said.

While criticizing United Russia, he praised President Dmitry Medvedev and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, who heads the United Russia party.

When asked who he saw as the best prime minister and finance minister from today's politicians, he named Putin and Medvedev. He said many politicians in the parliament were there only for their own interests, but said that Putin and Medvedev "were different."

He warned, however, that the financial troubles faced by the current government due to the global economic turmoil would be even more challenging than those of the 1998 crisis, when the ruble collapsed and Russia defaulted on it sovereign debt.

"Today we have a similar situation to that in 1986 when I came to power," he said. "Then the U.S., Saudi Arabia and a few other countries decided to squash us using oil prices, which fell to $10 per barrel and led to the Soviet Union losing two-thirds of its income."

Gorbachev also said he planned to visit the United States to work with American politicians on necessary reforms.

"Three years ago I told a group of American students that they needed their own American perestroika, and they gave me a standing ovation. Now they have a person in power who can start one. We've already begun writing to one another," he added, referring to U.S. President Barack Obama.


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