Former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev has condemned Kremlin-backed laws passed in Russia as an “attack on the rights of citizens”.
The last leader of the USSR before its collapse also called on Russian President Vladimir Putin “not to be afraid of his own people”.
The new laws include fines for unsanctioned demonstrations and measures to force NGOs to register as “foreign agents”.
“The common thread running through all of them is an attack on the rights of citizens,” Mr Gorbachev told the BBC. “For goodness sake, you shouldn’t be afraid of your own people”.
“What people want and expect their President to do is to restore an open, direct dialogue with them. He shouldn’t take offence at this.”