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11 Jan, 2021 14:48

Ex-Soviet nations would have found it easier to become democracies if USSR still existed in some form, laments Gorbachev

Ex-Soviet nations would have found it easier to become democracies if USSR still existed in some form, laments Gorbachev

The transition to democracy would have been easier for former Soviet countries if the USSR had continued to exist in some form, former president Mikhail Gorbachev has said.

His comments follow recent political crises in Belarus and Kyrgyzstan, which the former leader believes are struggling with the difficulties of changing from the Soviet system to democracy.

“Of course, I am worried about what is happening with our neighbors,” he told RIA Novosti. “If we managed to preserve the union in some form, I am sure there would be fewer [problems].”

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Under Gorbachev’s leadership, the USSR fell apart into 15 independent republics.

However, the former president expressed confidence that the countries would eventually overcome their issues, and warned foreign nations against interfering in former Soviet territory, particularly in Belarus.

“We must give the people the opportunity to find their own way,” he said, noting President Alexander Lukashenko’s proposed constitutional reforms. “All parties need to have a responsible attitude in this process.”

In September, Gorbachev voiced his support for Belarusian demonstrators, calling the violent police crackdown “devilish.”

“I respect the republic and love the Belarusian people,” he told web-based outlet Podyom. “They have now shown their strong character. It’s very good.”

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Political unrest in Belarus began on August 9, when Lukashenko was awarded victory in his sixth presidential election. According to official results, which are widely believed by the opposition to have been rigged, 80.1 percent of voters supported the long-time leader.

After the closure of polling stations, demonstrations began against the alleged falsification of results. Days later, opposition figure Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, thought by some to have been the true victor, fled to Lithuania. In the months since, there have been regular protests on the country’s streets, with demonstrators demanding that the president resign.

Meanwhile, Kyrgyzstan, another former Soviet republic, has also undergone political turmoil in recent months. Following October’s parliamentary elections, protestors took to the streets and stormed the White House, eventually forcing the president, speaker and prime minister to resign. His replacement, Sadyr Japarov, was elected as leader on January 10 after holding power as acting president for a few months.

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