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Gorbachev Criticizes Russian PM's Party

Former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev says Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin's United Russia party is similar to the worst of the communists that Mr. Gorbachev once led.

In an interview with the Associated Press, Mr. Gorbachev criticized United Russia as a party of bureaucrats, calling it the "worst version" of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. He also criticized Russia's parliament as lacking needed independence and said the country's judiciary does not fully comply with the provisions of Russia's constitution.

The former Soviet leader said he thinks the time is right for improved relations between the U.S. and Russia and called on the world community to head off the prospect of an Iranian nuclear weapon with "maximal dialogue."

Reflecting on the past, he said he had not intended to dismantle the former Soviet Union, but was trying to fix communism.

He described himself as a "resolute opponent of the breakup of the union" and still maintains hope Ukraine, Kazakhstan and Belarus will join Russia in forming a new union.

He said the global economic crisis showed capitalism should be tempered with elements of the socialist system. He said it was a "hard lesson" for America to learn that things would not always go its way.

Mr. Gorbachev, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate, currently heads the Gorbachev Foundation, a think tank he founded in 1992 to promote "democratic values and moral, humanistic principles."

Some information for this report was provided by AP.