Mikhail Gorbachev, the first and only president of the Soviet Union, has accused Prime Minister Vladimir Putin of having no desire to tackle Russia's problems.
"Putin wants to stay in power, but not to resolve at long last our most pressing problems - education, medicine and poverty," Gorbachev told the German weekly Der Spiegel.
Gorbachev also hit out at the Putin-led United Russia party, comparing it to the Soviet-era Communist Party.
"They want to maintain the status-quo, there is no progress," he said. "They are pulling us back into the past, while the country urgently needs modernization."
"People are not consulted, and parties are mere puppets of the regime," he added.
Gorbachev's tenure of 1985-1991 ended with the fall of the Soviet empire. In his interviews, he has said his plans were to reform the Soviet Union and the Communist Party system but he confessed that he was too late.
When asked about frequent comparisons between himself and current Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, who positions himself as a liberal politician, Gorbachev said: "Medvedev is an educated man, he is accumulating experience, but he needs forces he can rely upon to address issues."
Gorbachev, 80, also a winner of the Nobel Prize for Peace (1990), was upbeat about Russia's future development.
"Russian democracy will advance - albeit with pain and much difficulty - and there will be no more dictatorship," he said, warning, however, that a return to the authoritarian past was possible.
"We have only gone half-way," he said.