Gorbachev urges Putin to step down

Vladimir Putin and former Russian President Mikhail Gorbachev are seen in this October 2006 file photo at a conference in Dresden, Germany. Andreas Rentz/Getty Images

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 said 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.

Largest protests yet in Moscow

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.

People protest against the December 4 parliament elections in Moscow, on December 24, 2011. The poster depicting Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and former Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi features a quote by Lenin: "You go right way, comrades!"
NATALIA KOLESNIKOVA/AFP/Getty Images

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