Mikhail Gorbachev was elected president by the Supreme Soviet...


MOSCOW -- Mikhail Gorbachev was elected president by the Supreme Soviet today, giving him full control of both the Communist Party and the government in a sweeping two-day shakeup of the Kremlin leadership.

In a one-hour session, the 1,500-member Parliament also appointed Deputy KGB chief Vladimir Kryuchkov to replace Viktor Chebrikov as head of the secret police, the Tass news agency said. Chebrikov retained his full-voting status in the ruling Politburo.


Andrei Gromyko, 79, who was retired from the Politburo Friday, stepped down from the presidency and Pyotr Demichev, axed in the shuffle, was relieved of his parliamentary duties as vice president, the Tass news agency said.

'Mikhail Gorbachev, general secretary of the CPSU Central Committee, was unanimously elected today president of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the U.S.S.R.,' the Tass news agency said.

Though presently only a ceremonial post, structural reforms to be implemented next spring will give the president wider responsibilities and eventually could become a more powerful position than general secretary of the Communist Party.


Gorbachev, in remarks to the plenary session of the Supreme Soviet, said he would continue to 'apply every effort to effect the policy of perestroika, or restructuring,' Tass said.

He said perestroika had won the support of the working class andthat 'the time had come for vigorous action.'

'Perestroika has entered a new and crucial phase,' Gorbachev told the parliament. He said successful economic change and an end to 'the distortions and twisting of the principles of socialism' would lead the nation to modernization.

'Along with dealing with the more important domestic policy issues, the nation's legislature will be definitely more active in implementing Soviet foreign policies,' Gorbachev said.

Anatoly Lukyanov, who attended law school with Gorbachev and was made a non-voting member of the Politburo Friday, was named vice president of the nominal parliament.

Gorbachev's consolidation of power followed a sweeping reshuffle of the Kremlin leadership Friday that included retirement of Gromyko and the ousting of three other Politburo members, all considered opponents of Gorbachev's reforms.

The Soviet leader's predecessors -- Konstantin Chernenko, Yuri Andropov and Leonid Brezhnev -- had held the title of president. But Gorbachev, who became Soviet leader in 1985, had promoted Gromyko to the the post rather than take it himself.


By assuming the presidency, Gorbachev eliminates the awkward position of being Soviet leader but not the official head of state.

Tass said other changes were made in the Council of Ministers. 'It changed the makeup of the deputy heads of government and appointed a new chairman for the KGB,' the news agency said without identifying the new officials.

Vadim Medvedev, who rose from obscurity to be elected one of 12 full voting members of the Politburo, Friday termed the personnel changes as a clear-cut victory for Gorbachev.

Medvedev said at a news conference that Gromyko asked to be 'made a pensioner' and to retire. His removal from public life became complete today when the Supreme Soviet 'relieved' him from his duties.

The presidency is a governmental post and technically not a party political appointment, but the election of Gorbachev gives him ultimate control over every phase of Soviet life.

Politburo member Mikhail Solomentsev, 70, and non-voting or candidate members Vladimir Dolgikh, 63 and Demichev, 70 were ousted in the one-hour session of the Central Committee Friday.

Anatoly Dobrynin, 68, former Soviet ambassador to the United States for 24 years and head of the Communist Party Central Committee's International Department, also was retired as 'his own request.'


Alexander Yakovlev, the architect of Gorbachev's glasnost policy and already a full Politburo member, takes over as head of international affairs for the Central Committee.

Yegor Ligachev, considered Gorbachev's chief opponent and power rival, was stripped of his prestigeous ideology portfolio and made chairman of a new Central Committee commission overseeing agriculture. He retains his seat on the Politburo but his impact on party direction may have been severely curtailed.

Since Gorbachev assumed power, the average age of the Politburo has declined from just under 70 years of age to 62 years.

The Politburo is the supreme decision making body within the Communist Party, while the Central Committee is the chief legislative and administrative organization. The Supreme Soviet is a rubber stamp parliament for party decisions.

While Medvedev moved up to the Politburo as a full member, Minister of Internal Affairs Alexander Vlasov, 56, Lukyanov and Alexandra Biryukova, 59, were all moved up to non-voting status on the Politburo. There are now eight non-voting positions.

Biryukova becomes the first women to serve on the Politburo in 27 years and only the second to hold such a high post since the Communist revolution of 1917.

Medvedev said the reshuffle within the Politburo and central Committee ranks was 'natural' and a victory for Gorbachev.


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