Gorbachev puts his mark on the Soviet leadership
Mikhail Gorbachev has set himself the goal of transforming the face of the Soviet Union and has promoted the men he needs to do it. He also told the United States that he was interested in a return to d'etente but made clear that this would not be on any terms Washington might choose. He fiercely criticized the US, which he said ``claims the `right' to trample underfoot the interests of other countries.''
And Mr. Gorbachev laid down guidelines for what he described as ``revolutionary changes'' in the Soviet economic system.
In the action-packed meeting of the Soviet Communist Party Central Committee Tuesday, Gorbachev promoted two key economic advisers to the ruling Politburo: Yegor K. Ligachev and Nikolai I. Ryzhkov.
Both were members of the Central Committee Secretariat. By being named to the Politburo without going through the usual transitional stage of candidate (nonvot-ing) membership, they have gained immensely in prestige.
Viktor Chebrikov, head of the Soviet secret police (the KGB) and a candidate Politburo member, became the 13th full member of the top executive body.
Bowing to the Army, the third element with the KGB and the Communist Party in the trinity of power in Moscow, Marshal Sergei L. Sokolov, the defense minister, was made a candidate Politburo member.
There is one new name in the corridors of Kremlin power: Viktor Nikonov. He was named one of the powerful Central Committee secretaries.
Mr. Nikonov had been made agriculture minister for the Russian Federation, the largest of the 15 Soviet republics, by the late President Yuri Andropov. Nikonov is now almost certainly Gorbachev's own successor as the man responsible to the Central Committee for national agriculture.
In his speech to the closed meeting, Gor-bachev stressed the importance of solving the problems of Soviet agriculture and improving the population's living standards.
``It is important that the Soviet people feel changes for the better already in the immediate future,'' he said.
To secure an increase in living standards, he advocated greater development of the food-processing sector. The Soviet Union lags far behind the West in that area, and Gorbachev said a comprehensive program was planned to develop the production of consumer goods.
Addressing the vast technology gap between the Soviet economy and Western economies, he said the emphasis had to be on science and technology, coupled with better management and the promotion of more women and young people to responsible posts.
The Central Committee meeting set Feb. 25 next year as the date for the full Communist Party congress that will approve a new manifesto setting aims and targets up until the end of the century.
On foreign policy, Gorbachev criticized the US for what he called a series of ``standard no's'' to Soviet arms proposals. He said Washington showed no sign of willingness to negotiate on space weapons.
``The completed first stage of the Geneva talks already gives grounds to say that Washington does not seek agreement with the Soviet Union,'' Gorbachev said.
Western diplomats said that although the speech included harsh criticism of the US, it also contained hopeful elements in its references to the d'etente era.
Gorbachev, who is due to go to Warsaw at the end of this week for a formal ceremony renewing the Warsaw Pact military alliance for a further 20 years, said the existence of the bloc would be necessary as long as the West had NATO.
In an oblique reference to the latest round of Sino-Soviet talks, which ended in Moscow Monday, he said the Kremlin was still keen to improve relations with Peking but gave no hint that radical breakthroughs were imminent. China, meanwhile, said Tuesday that it was ready to restore relations with trade unions in the Soviet Union and elsewhere in Eastern Europe.