MOSCOW, March 18, 1985 (UPI) -- Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev was in charge of ruling the Politburo when the late President Konstantin Chernenko was ill and unable to fulfill his duties, it was revealed Monday.
Gorbachev's role as head of the Politburo well before Chernenko's death was made known in a speech delivered last week by Foreign Minister Andrei Gromyko.
Gromyko nominated the 54-year-old Gorbachev as General Secretary of the Communist Party at a meeting of the Central Committee following the death of Chernenko on March 10.
In his nominating speech, published and distributed in Moscow Monday, Gromyko said Gorbachev ''was chairman of the meetings of the Politburo when Konstantin Ustinovich (Chernenko) was absent. He showed himself brilliantly, without any exaggeration.''
During his 13 months as president, Chernenko was often ill and unable to attend the weekly meetings of the Politburo -- which sets overall policy -- for weeks at a time. It was not clear, however, exactly when Gorbachev headed the Politburo before Chernenko's death.
In his speech, Gromyko praised Gorbachev as a man able to find solutions to almost any problem.
''There can be intermediate colors, intermediate questions and intermediate solutions,'' he said. ''Mikhail Sergeyevich (Gorbachev) can always find such solutions, which correspond to the party line.''
Gromyko also hailed Gorbachev as especially competent in the field of foreign affairs.
''He grasps very quickly and well the essence of the processes which take place not (only) in our country, but in the international arena,'' the veteran foreign minister said.
''I myself was often struck by his ability to grasp quickly and precisely the essence of the matter, to draw conclusions, correct (Communist) Party conclusions,'' Gromyko said.
In an open letter Monday, Gorbachev thanked all those who made his unanimous election to the party leadership possible.
''I take advantage of the opportunity to reaffirm yet one more time the determination of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, of the Soviet state to continue the course toward speeding up the country's social and economic development,'' he said in the letter.