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Mikhail Gorbachev, Former Soviet Leader, Urges Vladimir Putin To Step Down

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Former Soviet Union President Mikhail Gorbachev gives a press conference in Montpellier, southern France, on November 25, 2011 as part of the New Policy Forum annual meeting. (PASCAL GUYOT/AFP/Getty Images)
Former Soviet Union President Mikhail Gorbachev gives a press conference in Montpellier, southern France, on November 25, 2011 as part of the New Policy Forum annual meeting. (PASCAL GUYOT/AFP/Getty Images)

By NATALIYA VASILYEVA and JIM HEINTZ -- The Associated Press

MOSCOW — Mikhail Gorbachev, who resigned as Soviet president 20 years ago Sunday, has urged Prime Minister Vladimir Putin to follow his example and step down.

Gorbachev says if Putin stepped down now he would be remembered for the positive things he did during his 12 years in power.
The former Soviet leader spoke on Ekho Moskvy radio Saturday after a demonstration against Putin drew tens of thousands in Moscow. It was the largest show of public outrage since the protests in 1991 that brought down the Soviet Union.

The 80-year-old Gorbachev carries little weight in Russia today. And while many Russians have grown weary with Putin's rule, his opponents are split among numerous groups. They have no clear leader who could challenge Putin in the March presidential election.

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