Gorbachev's choice for VP is defeated, then elected

December 27, 1990|By ASSOCAITED PRESS

MOSCOW (AP) -- The Congress of People's Deputies confirmed Mikhail S. Gorbachev's nominee for vice president today on a second ballot after the president implored lawmakers to approve someone he trusted.

Earlier today, legislators had rejected the nominee, Gennady I. Yanayev, by 31 votes, prompting Gorbachev to request a second vote.

The state news agency Tass, citing "provisional results," said Yanayev won the second round. The independent news agency Interfax also reported the victory, saying Yanayev won "about 1,240" votes in the secret ballot.

Before the second vote, Gorbachev insisted that the Congress confirm his candidate and several legislators took the floor to urge support for the Soviet president. Many delegates apparently were swayed by the speeches.

The confirmation by the 2,239-member Congress means Yanayev, a relatively obscure 53-year-old Communist bureaucrat, will assume the newly created office of vice president in a reorganized federal government hierarchy.

Yanayev was the only candidate for the vice presidency. Neither the new plan -- adopted by legislators yesterday -- nor Soviet officials defined the vice president's powers, apparently leaving them for Gorbachev to decide.

A constitutional amendment says the vice president "replaces the president of the U.S.S.R. in case of his absence and inability to carry out his duties."

The first vote today by the country's highest legislative body was 1,089 for Yanayev and 583 against, the elections commission announced. Yanayev needed at least 1,120 votes, a simple majority of the 2,239 registered deputies.

Gorbachev had said it was important that the vice president be someone in whom he had complete confidence and urged further debate on Yanayev's candidacy. "The fact that only 583 deputies or 25 percent of the Congress voted against Comrade Yanayev persuades me to ask the Congress to vote again," he said.

Lawmakers said Yanayev was initially rejected because he was not well known and had too many ties to the Communist Party and its youth organization, the Komsomol.

Radical economist Oleg Bogomolov said during a break in the Congress that Yanayev was "a representative of the party leadership and central committee apparatus. He's very obedient, very conformist."

Yuri Kalmykov, chairman of the jurisprudence committee, said many deputies wanted "someone with experience in industry and economics."

Nevertheless, after the renomination, several lawmakers rose to praise Yanayev and to urge support for Gorbachev.

Yanayev had been considered a "safe" choice for the vice presidency in these turbulent times of bare grocery store shelves, ethnic violence and nationwide political paralysis.

In comments to the Congress after being nominated yesterday, Yanayev supported Gorbachev's reformist policies but also took a somewhat hard-line tack, calling for law and order.

Gorbachev had initially planned to nominate Eduard A. Shevardnadze for the job. But Shevardnadze resigned as foreign minister last week to protest what he said was a drift toward dictatorship.

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