"The situation is very difficult. We are in a situation that requires huge efforts. Smart, constructive efforts are needed to get out of this," Gorbachev told RIA Novosti.
Turning to proposals voiced at recent meetings between Russia's president and government, the Soviet ex-leader said that "many things seemed to offer hope that something would turn for the better."
"Then, all that remained on the sidelines. It turns out that these things are being said in order to reassure, and not enough efforts are made to implement them. If we don't do this now, the situation will be dire. Therefore, the main issue now is to unite the efforts of the entire society," he added.
Russia saw an economic downturn in 2014 after the United States and the European Union imposed economic sanctions on Moscow over its alleged involvement in the Ukrainian crisis, as well as the global slump in oil prices. The ruble lost about half its value against the dollar.
In late November 2015, the International Monetary Fund said Russia’s economic outlook was improving, with the country’s economy heading toward stabilization.