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Vorotnikov Moved Upstairs, Vlasov Becomes Premier of Russian Republic

October 3, 1988 GMT

MOSCOW (AP) _ Politburo member Vitaly I. Vorotnikov was moved to the ceremonial job of president of the Russian republic Monday as the Kremlin capped the biggest leadership shake-up in Mikhail S. Gorbachev’s 3 1/2 years in power.

The major beneficiary of the realignment of power was Gorbachev himself. The Communist Party’s general secretary was elected Soviet president by the Supreme Soviet parliament Saturday to replace Andrei A. Gromyko, 79, who retired.

At a Monday meeting, the legislature of the Russian republic, the largest of the 15 Soviet republics, elected Interior Minister Alexander V. Vlasov, who was named a candidate member of the ruling Politburo during a Central Committee meeting Friday, the republic’s new premier to replace Vorotnikov.

Vladimir P. Orlov, the 67-year-old president of the republic, retired, and Vorotnikov was elected his successor.

Gorbachev, who attended the meeting of the Russian republic’s parliament in the Kremlin, recommended the changes, and lauded Orlov and Vorotnikov in remarks later shown on state-run television.

Last week, Gorbachev pushed a major shake-up through the Communist Party’s policy-making Central Committee. He retired two full and two candidate Politburo members, promoted four other people and streamlined the Central Committee’s apparatus.

Vlasov, 56, who worked in Gorbachev’s home area of southern Russia before becoming interior minister, in charge of the uniformed police, in 1986. It appeared unlikely that he would continue to keep his job as the nation’s top policeman. But a replacement would have to be named by national authorities, and not by the republican parliament that met Monday.

Vorotnikov’s replacement as the Russian premier had been rumored in Moscow, and there have been persistent reports that the 62-year-old leader was ill. The official Tass news agency gave no reason for the changes.

Vorotnikov and Ukrainian Communist Party leader Vladimir V. Shcherbitsky are the only two members of the ruling 12-man party Politburo who were there before Gorbachev took power.

The decision to kick Vorotnikov upstairs could be an indication that he will be removed from the Politburo at a later date.

One Western diplomat in Moscow, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Vorotnikov was considered a ″swing″ vote on the Politburo. He generally supported Gorbachev’s reforms, but was ″not real outspoken, cautious, not zealous,″ the diplomat said.


Vorotnikov was first deputy premier of the Russian republic in 1975-1979, but ran afoul of the Kremlin leadership in the last years of President Leonid I. Brezhnev’s reign and was made ambassador to Cuba.

He was summoned back to Moscow after Brezhnev’s death in 1982, and became premier of the republic the following year.

Gorbachev’s election Saturday by the 1,500 deputies of the Supreme Soviet unified supreme party and government power in his hands and gave him more power to force through his reform program.

Friday’s hastily called meeting of the Central Committee elevated economist Vadim A. Medvedev from the committee’s secretariat to full Politburo status and streamlined the Central Committee structure, giving key Gorbachev allies important responsibilities.

The Politburo changes left the Kremlin with no clear No. 2 man, a position that generally had been regarded as Yegor K. Ligachev’s.

Changes in the party Friday and in the government Saturday were swift and well-orchestrated, indicating Gorbachev’s determination to act.

Gorbachev has advocated a more powerful presidency than the largely ceremonial job held by Gromyko, who was elevated to the job in July 1985 after serving 28 years as Soviet foreign minister.

In line with his reforms, Gorbachev pledged that the soviets, or government councils, would take on more responsibilities as the Communist Party withdraws from day-to-day management and instead concentrates on setting policy.

On Friday, Gorbachev isolated Ligachev, widely thought to be the leading conservative on Politburo, by placing him in charge of farm policy. Gromyko and Mikhail S. Solomentsev, both full members of the Politburo, were retired, as were candidate members Vladimir I. Dolgikh and Pyotor N. Demichev.

The Saturday session of the national parliament also selected a new chief of the KGB secret police, Vladimir A. Kryuchkov, to replace Viktor M. Chebrikov. Chebrikov moved to a job overseeing legal and judicial affairs in the party’s Central Committee apparatus.

Nikolai V. Talyzin, a candidate Politburo member and former chief of the State Planning Committee, was demoted from first deputy prime minister to Soviet ambassador to the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance, the trade bloc of the Soviet Union and its allies.

Alexandra P. Biryukova, the highest-ranking woman in the Kremlin hierarchy, took on new responsibilities. She was named a candidate member of the Politburo and a deputy prime minister.