Former Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov stepped up his criticism of President Vladimir Putin on Thursday, warning that unless pro-democratic political forces unite, the nation could revert to "a Soviet system with elements of state capitalism."
"The country is going in the wrong direction. Unfortunately the speed of movement in this negative direction is increasing," Kasyanov told a news conference.
Putin's plan to change the way State Duma elections are held is one of the greatest dangers to Russian democracy, Kasyanov said. On Thursday, Putin signed into law a change effectively blocking independent lawmakers without party affiliations from taking office.
Kasyanov also reiterated his criticism of the state's legal onslaught on the Yukos oil empire and its founders Mikhail Khodorkovsky and Platon Lebedev.
Kasyanov, whom Putin abruptly fired a month before the March 2004 presidential elections, also repeated that he may run for president in 2008. He added that his final decision would depend on the support of the people.
Based in London, we are an informal group dedicated to supporting democracy and human rights throughout
the former Soviet Union. Our aims are:
Informing the public about issues in this area that receive little coverage in the Western media.
Staging peaceful demonstrations and letter-writing campaigns in support of specific causes.
Supporting and publicising nonviolent pro-democracy groups throughout the region.
Encouraging European and American involvement.
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