Gorbachev stressed that he was astonished by the controversial laws that have recently been adopted, which include increasing
fines for unsanctioned demonstrations, extending the definition of treason and re-criminalizing libel.
At the same time, Gorbachev also criticized Putin's inner circle as full of "thieves and corrupt
officials," who are nevertheless successful at maintaining him in power and reducing the risk of a coup or revolt.
While suggesting that Putin needs to change his ruling style, the former Soviet leader did not provide any specific recommendations. Still, Gorbachev referred
to the house arrest of Sergei Udaltsov, a prominent Russian dissident, as a type of practice that Putin should avoid in the future.
Gorbachev believes that the restrictive laws passed in recent times indicate that Putin "is tense and worried" about his capacity to maintain power. Human Rights Watch claimed that, since regaining the presidency in May 2012, Putin had launched "the worst political
crackdown in Russia's post-Soviet history.”
Stressing that Putin should "not to be afraid of his own people," Gorbachev highlighted the fact that what people want and expect is for "their president to restore
an open, direct dialogue with them.”
While delivering harsh statements about Putin, Gorbachev himself is not immune
to criticism and is widely disliked in Russia for his role in dismantling the Soviet Union. In a 2012 opinion poll asking
Russian citizens under whose rule Russia experienced positive development, Vladimir Putin came first, while Gorbachev came at the bottom, after Joseph Stalin. Nevertheless, Gorbachev is optimistic about his public perception. With his new book quickly selling out, he stressed: "I have a feeling that the young generation
today, which is cultured and educated, is changing the whole picture."
Gorbachev and Putin do not have a close relationship. They rarely speak
and have not held any direct meetings for more than a year.