Donald Trump's lack of experience may be 'good' says former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev

'In Russia everyone thought the Democrats would win - me included.'

Lucy Pasha-Robinson
Tuesday 13 December 2016 12:22 GMT
Former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev believes a world without nuclear weapons 'is not a utopia'
Former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev believes a world without nuclear weapons 'is not a utopia' (REUTERS)

Donald Trump’s lack of political experience maybe “good”, according to the former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, who went on to accuse the West of "provoking Russia".

The former Soviet leader who helped put an end to the Cold War said he had not met the US President-elect in person so he could not “judge his views and policies.”

“It's an interesting situation. In Russia everyone thought the Democrats would win - me included, although I didn't say it,” he told the BBC.

In a separate interview with the Associated Press (AP), the 85-year-old added that Mr Trump “has little political experience, but maybe it’s good.”

He also praised the outgoing President Obama but he said that US policy towards Russia had been misguided.

"They have been badgering Russia with accusations and blaming it for everything," he said. "And now, there is a backlash to that in Russia. Russia wants to have friendly ties with America, but it's difficult to do that when Russia sees that it's being cheated."

Russian and US leaders should sit down for talks and "stay at the table until they reach agreement", he said.

"The world needs Russia and the United States to cooperate," he added. "Together, they could lead the world ... to a new path."

Mr Gorbachev, also blamed Western media for inadvertently boosting president Putin’s popularity and for pushing an agenda to "get rid of him."

"I'm sure that the Western press - and that includes you - has been given special instructions to discredit Putin and get rid of him,” he said. “Not physically. Just to make sure he steps aside.”

But, he said that as a result of this, Mr Putin’s popularity rating had reached 86 per cent and would soon, reach 120 per cent.

Speaking of the fall of the USSR under his leadership, Mr Gorbachev claimed its collapse was due to “treachery”.

In 1991, the leaders of Russia, Belorussia and Ukraine agreed to dissolve the Soviet Union and form a Commonwealth of Independent States and Mr Gorbachev was forced to resign/

"What happened to the USSR was my drama. And a drama for everyone who lived in the Soviet Union,” he told the BBC.

"Behind our backs there was treachery. Behind my back. They were burning down the whole house just to light a cigarette. Just to get power. They couldn't get it through democratic means. So they committed a crime. It was a coup.”

Asked whether freedom is under threat in today's Russia, he said: “This process hasn't been completed. We need to speak frankly about this. There are some people for whom freedom is an annoyance. They don't feel good with it.”

Pushed as to whether he was referring directly to Vladimir Putin, he replied: "You'll have to guess who I mean. This is one question I'll leave you to answer."

He also made it clear he doesn’t necessarily see eye to eye with the current Russian leader.

Asked whether President Putin ever asks him for advice he said: "He knows everything already. Everybody likes to do things their own way. C'est la vie, as the French say."

But he was more critical of one of President Putin’s closest allies, Igor Sechin.

“Bureaucrats stole the nation's riches and began to create corporations,” he said.

Mr Gorbachev was known to have had close ties with the late US President Ronald Reagan, which many believe helped facilitate the end to the Cold War.

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