MOSCOW: A Russian billionaire has said he is teaming up with the former Soviet President, Mikhail Gorbachev, to form a political party that will challenge the country’s recent steps away from democracy.

Alexander Lebedev, a former lawmaker who has built a fortune in business and investment, said he and Mr. Gorbachev would work together in a political movement tentatively named the Independent Democratic Party.

Mr. Gorbachev (77) could not immediately be reached for comment, and it wasn’t clear if he planned to seek an active political role more than 17 years after the Soviet Union collapsed around him, costing him his job as its last leader.

In a statement on his website, Mr. Lebedev said the new party was Mr. Gorbachev’s idea.

“The initiative belongs to President Gorbachev. He gave our people freedom, but we have not learned how to use it.”— AP