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Gorbachev in shock return to Russian politics -

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LISA MILLAR: Well he's loved by the West and loathed by the East and he's making a political
comeback.

Former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev has teamed up with Russian tycoon Alexander Lebedev to form
a new political party in Russia, provisionally named the Independent Democratic Party.

A spokesman for the one time Soviet president says Mr Gorbachev's intention is not to win seats in
the Parliament, but to provide an alternative platform for young Russians interested in politics.

But Alexey Muraviev, an analyst on Russian strategic affairs at Perth's Curtin University of
Technology says he suspects Mr Gorbachev's deeper desire is probably to regain some political
respectability within Russia.

And he's been telling Tanya Nolan the new party is likely to have the backing of the Kremlin.

ALEXEY MURAVIEV: Well quite recently Gorbachev was acting very much along the lines of Kremlin's
policies, so I wouldn't rule out this possibility. Also this idea for the creation of so-called
Russia's Independent Democratic Party may result in an amalgamation of existing political blocks of
the liberal political spectrum.

This consideration suggests that it's not a move coming from Gorbachev and also this financial
tycoon Alexander Lebedev, but it's perhaps part of the game that the Kremlin is playing in order to
reform Russia's political spectrum.

TANYA NOLAN: But in the past Mr Gorbachev has criticised many of the electoral practices of Prime
Minister Vladimir Putin's United Russia Party, why don't you think this is Mr Gorbachev's attempt
to send the Kremlin a message?

ALEXEY MURAVIEV: Well I don't think Gorbachev has very much political leverage to engage in any
serious battles inside Russia whilst he is still very much a welcome figure in the West, as the
leader that stopped the Cold War; that contributed to the collapse of the iron curtain. He's still
very much regarded as a traitor in Russia, a person that has very little respect and very little
public support.

So in this sense I don't think the Kremlin considers him as a serious challenger.

TANYA NOLAN: Some commentators are calling this 'Glasnost revisited', the campaign of this new
party is for legal economic reform, favouring less state capitalism. Do you not think Gorbachev is
trying to shine a light on what's going on in the Russian political system?

ALEXEY MURAVIEV: Well first of all, we shouldn't really jump in ahead of the train because the
party is yet to be formed and I think him and Lebedev will actually want to see what would be the
real chances of this party coming to light.

It is quite possible that the party's, or the idea for the party has been formed in preparation for
the year 2011 parliamentary elections. But once again the chances of them succeeding at this stage
I think would be quite slim.

TANYA NOLAN: Well perhaps not Mr Gorbachev himself, when he last ran for president in '96 he won
less than one per cent of the vote, but what about his partner, Alexander Lebedev, what's he got to
gain? What can you tell us about him?

ALEXEY MURAVIEV: He's certainly made some headlines a while ago when he announced his intent to
engage actively in the political life, but I think after the Khodorkovsky case which effectively
demonstrated how the Kremlin would treat the ambitions of all the oligarchs, the major financial
tycoons when they suddenly decide to use their financial leverage and weight in order to gain
political dividends (phonetic).

I think it's a way for him once again not to get confrontational with the Kremlin, that's why he's
chosen an alliance with Gorbachev; interest, it's a way for him to basically gain an immunity from
any possible persecutions or any possible pressures coming from the Kremlin.

Not to share the fate of Khodorkovsky, if he would identify himself with more notorious in the
Kremlin's new political opponents such as either Mikhail Kasyanov, the former Prime Minister or
Gary Kasparov, a former chess champion, that these are the two that certainly represent more
clearly a clear pro-Western slash pro-American view point and (inaudible) Russian opposition.

And I think that both Lebedev and Gorbachev said that in no way they going to form any, in some
sort of partnership so with these two key figures, once again suggest this party will try to
distance itself from the pro-Western liberal position that currently exists in Russia.

LISA MILLAR: That's Alexey Muraviev, an analyst on Russian strategic affairs at Perth's Curtin
University of Technology, speaking with Tanya Nolan.