Gorbachev rebukes Putin's attack on rights

March 7, 2013 at 9:33 AM
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MOSCOW, March 7 (UPI) -- Former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev has condemned laws passed in Russia and has called them "attacks on the rights of citizens."

The laws include fines for organizing unsanctioned protests, stiffer libel penalties and a wider definition of treason, the BBC said.

In the interview with the British broadcaster, Gorbachev, 82, said he was "astonished" by the controversial laws.

"The common thread running through all of them is an attack on the rights of citizens. For goodness sake, you shouldn't be afraid of your own people," he told the BBC.

Gorbachev said he supported Putin during his first term, but now, the two men rarely speak.

In January, Human Rights Watch accused Putin of starting the "worst political crackdown in Russia's post-Soviet history," the BBC said.

The group also said Putin had reversed President Dmitry Medvedev's advances toward political freedoms.

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