Former Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov blamed the nation’s current woes, amid the collapse of the ruble, on economic mismanagement and urged President Vladimir Putin to give up his post by holding early elections.
Kasyanov, an ex-ally of Putin who is now an opposition leader, said Putin must accept that he needs an exit strategy, Reuters reported.
“Russia is going into decline,” Kasyanov was quoted as saying in an interview on Wednesday. “2015 is a year in which Putin must make a ‘principle’ decision.”
Warning that the Russian leader would face protests, he said Putin could choose a “further squeezing of the political environment”, meaning a tightening of the screws on critics, or accept “he needs an exit strategy” and agree to hold free elections early.
“As a result of that, (he should have) just a quiet departure through presidential elections. I don’t believe he will win presidential elections if they are free and fair,” Kasyanov was quoted as saying.
Russia’s next presidential election is due in 2018. Putin, 62, has not said whether he will seek another six-year term.
The ruble is about 45 percent down against the dollar this year and its fall has aroused fears of financial meltdown, the report noted.
A 6.5 percentage point increase in the key lending rate to 17 percent failed to prop the ruble up on Tuesday, and it was about 20 percent down on the day at one point.
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