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Supreme Soviet Challenges Party Dominance

THE new Supreme Soviet has the same name as its predecessor. But it differs in one key respect: The new body has full legislative powers. Chosen from the ranks of the elected 2,250-member People's Congress of Deputies, the Soviet (parliament) will stay in session for two periods of three to four months a year. The previous, largely ceremonial Supreme Soviet met only for two six-day sessions a year, effectively rubber-stamping Communist Party decisions.

Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev has suggested that he plans to transfer many of the party's day-to-day powers to the new legislature, and hopes to use it to circumvent bureaucratic opposition and win popular support for his reform policies.

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Supreme Soviet commissions will be made up of members of the standing body and the full Congress. The commissions will oversee the budget, defense, and other key areas.

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