Court Bars Gorbachev Travel Abroad
MOSCOW (AP) _ Former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev will be prevented from leaving Russia until he agrees to testify in a trial on the banned Communist Party, the Constitutional Court said Friday.
It was the court’s most serious action yet in its dispute with Gorbachev over the trial on the legality of Russian President Boris Yeltsin’s decree banning the Communist Party last year.
Gorbachev has refused an order to testify about his role in the party and its control over the Soviet government, calling the case a farce. Gorbachev led the former Soviet ruling party from 1985 until last August’s coup.
The court informed Russia’s foreign and security ministries that Gorbachev was planning to travel abroad Monday and asked them to ″take appropriate measures″ to block him, according to the ITAR-Tass news agency.
The court’s press service said the ministries agreed ″to prevent the departure of Gorbachev M.S. from the territory of Russia until his fulfillment of his civil duties,″ ITAR-Tass said.
Gorbachev reportedly planned a trip to South Korea. An aide, Alexander Likhotal, told The Associated Press that Gorbachev actually intended to leave Tuesday.
″If the state can bar a former president from speaking abroad, what can it do to ordinary citizens?″ Likhotal asked.
Gorbachev has taken several foreign trips since resigning as Soviet president last December.
Friday’s decision came a day after the court issued its second summons to Gorbachev. He has not responded publicly, but his spokesman, Vladimir Tumarkin, said Gorbachev likely would reject the orders.
Andrei Makarov, a lawyer representing the anti-Communists in the trial, said Thursday he was personally disappointed in Gorbachev’s refusal to appear.
″I trusted him when he spoke about building a democratic state based on law. It’s a bitter disappointment,″ Makarov said.
A representative of the Communist side could not be reached to comment Friday night.