Gorbachev Lines Up New System SOVIET UNION

Article excerpt

MIKHAIL Gorbachev's vision of the Soviet state is virtually complete.

Through a process of constitutional amendments and presidential decrees, he has constructed a powerful presidential system, with the Soviet president at the core of a renewed federal state.

The decisions of the Congress of People's Deputies, which concluded its fourth meeting last week, completed a legislative process that began at the previous Congress session in March with the establishment of a presidency. Over the spring and summer, Mr. Gorbachev fleshed out that creation, adding the authority to rule through decree.

The latest constitutional changes simultaneously strengthened the presidency while offering the republics that make up the Soviet Union a place in the structure of power.

For some, Gorbachev has created a monster - a structure of legal authority that can lead, as Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnadze warned dramatically, to a "dictatorship."

Gorbachev and his advisers argue that such fears are groundless. "Without this, it is impossible to either stabilize the situation or reform the economy," presidential aide Georgy Shakhnazarov told the daily Rabochaya Tribuna on Saturday. "The president is strengthening his powers only in order to protect democracy and perestroika (restructuring), the cause of his whole life."

But even if Gorbachev "finds the resources to resist the cult traditions of socialism, where is the guarantee that his future successor will succeed in doing this," questions liberal commentator Pavel Voshanov writing yesterday in Komsomolskaya Pravda.

At the fourth Congress, Gorbachev got his way on virtually all the measures and changes he sought. The one exception was the narrow defeat of a proposal to create a Supreme State Inspectorate, a rather vaguely defined body that would ensure that the president's decrees and federal laws are carried out. …