Gorbachev endorses rule by coalition, Yeltsin says

November 14, 1990|By Scott Shane | Scott Shane,Moscow Bureau of The Sun

MOSCOW -- Russian leader Boris N. Yeltsin said yesterday that Soviet President Mikhail S. Gorbachev had accepted in principle his proposal for a coalition government including representatives of the Russian Federation and other republics.

But Vitaly Ignatenko, spokesman for Mr. Gorbachev, said the Soviet president had no plans to ask for the resignation of the government of Prime Minister Nikolai I. Ryzhkov. Apparently, Mr. Gorbachev foresees a coalition government's taking shape not immediately but in the long run, as part of a reorganization of the Soviet Union under a new treaty to be signed by the republics on a voluntary basis.

Mr. Yeltsin, the president of Russia, told the Russian Parliament that "as a principle, the formation on this basis of such a coalition government of national unity was supported" by Mr. Gorbachev. "Such a course would be followed," he said the Soviet president told him in their four-hour meeting Sunday.

Mr. Yeltsin's idea of a coalition government of national unity, pushed by Soviet radicals for the past year, would dramatically shift the power still concentrated in the central ministries to the republics' parliaments, which were elected this year and enjoy far greater popular support.

In effect, it would bury the highly centralized economic system built by Josef V. Stalin, under which Moscow bureaucrats decided everything from how much cotton was grown in Uzbekistan to how much meat was provided to Siberian oil workers. It would mark the dismantling of the Soviet Union in its old model, under which all power flowed through the Kremlin.

Mr. Yeltsin, 59, who spent a month off the job after a concussion in a September car accident, was back in top form yesterday.

"Without consulting you, and at this preliminary stage, I didn't presume to claim a lot of posts" for Russia in the proposed coalition government, he deadpanned to the legislators.

"But for three -- the prime minister, minister of defense and minister of finance -- such a wish was stated." Laughter erupted as Mr. Yeltsin grinned at his gall in laying claim to the three key posts.

Mr. Yeltsin indicated later that other republics would also propose candidates for some jobs in the coalition government. He indicated that no detailed plan for such a government had been drawn up.

Mr. Yeltsin assured the feisty Parliament that he took a tough line with Mr. Gorbachev, accusing him of violating agreements on economic reform plans and of ignoring Russia's sovereignty, guaranteed by the Soviet Constitution and reinforced by a declaration passed in May.

In a surprise revelation, Mr. Yeltsin said that both Mr. Gorbachev and Vladimir A. Kryuchkov, chief of the KGB, had indicated they would not fight a Russian decision to take over the secret police and intelligence agency within Russia. The agency would be reorganized as a republican security service "with somewhat different functions," and the Soviet KGB would cease to exist, he said.

The powerful KGB has long been a key executor of the will of the central leadership, and so splitting it up along republican lines would be a certain sign of decentralization.

Mr. Yeltsin had said Monday that he and Mr. Gorbachev had agreed to set up a number of joint commissions of Russian and Soviet officials to decide how to divide powers and natural wealth.

For his part, Mr. Gorbachev emphasized yesterday that on the basic need to transform the Soviet Union into a "union of sovereign states," he and Mr. Yeltsin were in agreement.

He said nothing of Mr. Yeltsin's coalition government idea.

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