Mikhail Gorbachev has blamed the late Russian President Boris Yeltsin and other politicians for the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union, saying that their hunger for power destroyed the country.
Gorbachev, the last Soviet leader, spoke to the Interfax news agency a day before the 25th anniversary of a meeting between Yeltsin and the leaders of Ukraine and Belarus, Leonid Kravchuk and Stanislav Shushkevich.
On December 8, 1991, the trio declared that the Soviet Union had "ceased to exist" and formed the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS).
Gorbachev said that "the Russian leadership led the destruction of the [Soviet] Union, and the Ukrainian leadership was right there as well," Interfax reported.
"They destroyed the Soviet Union in order to be without Gorbachev. These people who destroyed the country cared only about power -- they greedily strove for it."
Several Soviet republics were shaken by anti-Kremlin demonstrations or interethnic clashes starting in the late 1980s, and many had declared independence before December 1991. Gorbachev resigned as Soviet president on December 25, declaring his office extinct.
Gorbachev spoke two days after Moscow-based Levada Center published poll results showing that 56 percent of Russians regret that Soviet Union collapsed, while 51 percent believe that it could have been preserved.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has called the Soviet collapse "the greatest geopolitical catastrophe" of the 20th century.
Based on reporting by Interfax