Former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev says the popular uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia proved citizens of those countries do not want to live under authoritarian rule and have lost patience with governments in power for decades.
In an opinion article Wednesday in the International Herald Tribune newspaper, Mr. Gorbachev said Arab elites, Middle East countries and world powers should understand the political implications of such regimes.
He warned the events now unfolding in the region will have "far-reaching" consequences for Egypt, the Middle East and the Muslim world.
Mr. Gorbachev led the Soviet Union from 1985 until his economic, political and social reforms, in part, contributed to its collapse in 1991.
His article appeared one day after Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said the United States and the West should not encourage the spread of revolutions and pro-democracy protests in the Middle East.
Lavrov said Russia has had its own revolution and does not need to be calling for others.
In recent weeks, popular uprisings have toppled long-standing regimes in Egypt and Tunisia. Anti-government demonstrators have also been holding protests in Iran, Bahrain, Yemen and Libya.
Earlier this week, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton praised the Iranian demonstrators as courageous. British Foreign Secretary William Hague urged Iran's government to restrain itself from cracking down on protesters and to allow people to freely express their views.
Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.