On Thursday, TIME's annual listing of the world's most influential people was made available online, and, not surprisingly, Vladimir Putin is on it.
Former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev wrote the accompanying piece about the Russian president and discusses what he sees as problematic in Putin's approach to governance.
Gorbachev acknowledges that, "faced with a crisis that he inherited from his predecessor, President Vladimir Putin succeeded in stabilizing the situation, preserving the Russian state and strengthening its economic position."
However, he goes on to note, "In the initial phase, certain measures of authoritarian nature—a kind of manual control—were justified. The costs: a diminished parliament, judiciary and civil society and less media independence. With time, the flaws became more evident. Economic growth slowed even before deterioration of relations with the West and sanctions, increasingly affecting lives."
Gorbachev further comments upon Russia's present-day problems, including, "mass poverty and corruption and illegal enrichment of the few; the degradation of education, health care and science," and says, "they cannot be solved without a change in the system of government."
He suggests that, "Russia can succeed only through democracy. Russia is ready for political competition, a real multiparty system, fair elections and regular rotation of government. This should define the role and responsibility of the President."
Speaking at a broader level in a recent interview with the German paper Bild, Gorbachev warned about what the future may hold if certain world leaders don't adopt a more cooperative attitude.
He said, "The language of politicians and the top-level military personnel is becoming increasingly militant. The relationship between the big powers continues to worsen. This creates the impression that the world is preparing for a war. So all the indications of a Cold War are there."