Moscow (CNN) -- Former Soviet leader and Nobel Peace Prize winner Mikhail Gorbachev is warning that Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi could be chased out of his own country if he does not begin to bend to the will of the people.
"Gadhafi reacted so ruthlessly that he might end up being forced out (of his country). I don't want to make predictions or anything, but he's shooting at people; he is using the military and weapons against defenseless people," Gorbachev said.
In a wide-ranging news conference to announce nominees for his new Gorbachev Awards for "world changers," Gorbachev weighed in on protests rattling the Middle East and criticized the Libyan regime for brutally repressing its own people.
"People are trying to get of out poverty, and they've got nothing to lose. I think it's now very important that Europe and the United States respond to this situation very responsibly," he said.
The former Soviet leader had blunt criticism for leaders in his own country as well.
Gorbachev blamed both President Dmitry Medvedev and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin for the state of Russian democracy, calling its institutions "fake." He added that both are showing incredible arrogance and disrespect for voters when suggesting that they would discuss between the two of them who should run for president in 2012.
Gorbachev has been ever more outspoken in recent weeks in criticizing Russian leaders, saying he sees the country becoming increasingly entrenched in a dangerous, authoritarian system.
In an interview with a Russian newspaper he co-owns, Gorbachev said he was trying to start a new political party but has been blocked by the Kremlin. He claims Kremlin bosses refuse to officially register and recognize his new social democratic party. Gorbachev says Russia is in need of a democratic revival.
Many Russians are ambivalent toward Gorbachev and his legacy. While many concede he brought real change to their lives with greater freedoms under Perestroika and with the dissolution of the Soviet Union, many also blame him for hardships that came afterward.
Maxim Tkachenko contributed to this report.