Moscow, Russia (CBS DC) — Former President of the Soviet Union Mikhail Gorbachev criticized current Russian President Vladimir Putin as he launches his book, “After the Kremlin,” saying Putin “thinks he is second only to God.”
The accusations of Putin’s God complex from Gorbachev come as Putin received a prestigious eighth-degree black belt in Kyokushin Karate. The Russian president, who is a grandmaster in taekwondo and a Judo expert, was warned by Gorbachev that getting a big ego is dangerous because “that is what ruined” his own political career.
“He thinks he is second only to God, but I don’t know in charge of what really,” said Gorbachev, the Daily Mail reports. “Don’t get a big head. That is what ruined me.”
Gorbachev, who praised the Russian president in in his new book, “After the Kremlin,” said that Putin has almost never made time for a meeting between the two and that he refuses to be silenced by his own critics in Russia who blame him for the collapse of the Soviet superpower. Gorbachev’s comments came to light following hours of debate with German Chancellor Angela Merkel for a solution to the Ukraine conflict.
“I need to participate, and I will,” said Gorbachev, the Daily Mail reports. “Nobody will shut my mouth, even though people wanted me to emigrate. I don’t want to leave, let those people leave.”
“I am called a traitor because I destroyed so many nuclear arms. The second treachery is that we built good relations with the US,” he added.
Gorbachev, 83, cautioned of a renewed Cold War between East and West powers, 25 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall.
“What is happening now in Ukraine is in many ways due to the mistakes of the breakup of the Soviet Union,” he said, adding that he supports Putin’s right to restore Crimea to Russia following the referendum – a move that Western powers have decried as illegitimate.
“Crimea was Russian, and most people in Crimea voted in favour of joining Russia,’ he said.”I supported this move from the beginning, and I am half-Ukrainian.”
“I worry about what is happening in Ukraine,” he added. “It might not be a scientific fact, but we are the same people.”
Putin, a former KGB officer, earned his ninth dan in martial arts in 2013 and has practiced martial arts since age 11, according to Putin’s official biography on the Kremlin website.