Former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev has denounced laws passed in Russia as an "attack on the rights of citizens".
In an interview with the BBC he called on President Vladimir Putin "not to be afraid of his own people".
Mr Gorbachev also criticised Mr Putin's inner circle, saying it was full of "thieves and corrupt officials".
The laws include fines for organising unsanctioned protests, stiffer libel penalties, a wider definition of treason and restrictions on websites.
In January, Human Rights Watch accused President Putin of unleashing "the worst political crackdown in Russia's post-Soviet history" since returning to the Kremlin for a third term in May 2012.