Gorbachev furious after police block his office

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The Independent Online
TEN MONTHS after evicting Mikhail Gorbachev from the Kremlin, President Boris Yeltsin yesterday sent police to bar the former Soviet leader from his retirement think-tank, adding further poison to a vengeful feud between the two men.

As police stopped staff from entering the building, a furious Mr Gorbachev stood on the steps outside to deliver a bitter attack on the man he helped bring to Moscow from the provinces at the start of perestroika in 1985.

'I am ashamed for the Russian authorities, ashamed for Russia, ashamed for all of us,' said Mr Gorbachev, slicing the cold morning air angrily with his right hand.

'The police have blocked the building as if it were a nest of spies,' continued the deeply humiliated but still defiant former leader. 'This is happening in

a country the leaders call

democratic.'

Police arrived at the headquarters of the Gorbachev Foundation a few hours after Mr Yeltsin issued a decree ordering Mr Gorbachev and scores of staff out. Also confiscated is a dacha outside Moscow. The state-owned properties were given to Mr Gorbachev last December as part of a retirement settlement worked out with his successor in the final days of the Soviet Union. The truce has dissolved into a vendetta.

Mr Gorbachev, who originally promised to hold his tongue and concentrate on academic research and foreign travel, has spoken out with increasing force against Mr Yeltsin. His first attack in June lost him the use of a government- issue Zil limousine.

Now, Mr Gorbachev has lost even a place to work, though he has been offered the option of renting back a few rooms. Yesterday's eviction follows his refusal, for a second time, to obey a summons from the Constitutional Court, which has already heard testimony from other leading officials in the now banned Communist Party.

The court has been sitting since July to examine Mr Yeltsin's decision last December to close the party down. The case was initiated by Communist parliamentarians but has since been turned on its head to become an inquest into the party's own misdeeds.

Mr Gorbachev dismisses the hearings as a farce and accuses the government of trying to make him a scapegoat for its failed policies.

But Mr Gorbachev's fate stirs little interest and virtually no sympathy among ordinary Russians. 'He ruined everything and now he complains,' Irena Martinenko, a 70-year-old pensioner, said. 'He did what Hitler failed to do:

destroy us.'

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