Yeltsin Spearheads Soviet 'Revolution From Below'
Pace of change is eclipsing role for Gorbachev, viability of union
AN anticommunist revolution as shattering and profound as the 1917 Bolshevik takeover is sweeping across the Soviet Union."Until recently, we were speaking about a revolution from above," former Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnadze told reporters on Saturday. "But today we must speak about a revolution from below, and it is a genuine revolution." Since the statue of the founder of the Soviet secret police was toppled late Thursday night in Moscow, the leaders of the revolution, with Russia's Boris Yeltsin at their head, have moved rapidly to dismantle the Bolshevik state. From the sealed doors of the Soviet Communist Party headquarters on the "Old Square" in Moscow to the graffiti-smeared walls of the KGB around the corner, the instruments of Soviet power are being forcefully shut down. At the same time, the Soviet Union is coming apart. On Saturday the Ukrainian parliament voted overwhelmingly to declare independence, following in the footsteps of the Baltic states of Estonia and Latvia. In turn, Russia recognized the Baltic independence. In Russia itself, the revolution is now clearly fed by an upsurge of national pride whose symbols openly harken back to the pre-Bolshevik era. As the revolutionary wave advances, Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev has had to run quickly to prevent being left behind and totally isolated from the popular mood. Since his rescue from the hard-line coup plotters on Wednesday, Gorbachev's stance has shifted under pressure from Yeltsin and his government. At his initial press conference on Thursday, the Soviet president was still defending the Communist Party. By the next day, after meeting Yeltsin and other republican leaders and after being publicly called to account in front of the Russian parliament, Gorbachev scrapped his initial replacements of coup plotters in the Cabinet and started formation of a new governing coalition. Late on Saturday night, Gorbachev took the step that Yeltsin, Shevardnadze, and others had taken months, even years before - he resigned from his post as head of the Communist Party; ordered the seizure of the party's extensive property; banned its cells from the Army, police, and all state institutions; and called on the party leadership to disband itself. These announcements followed a series of moves by Yeltsin's government and others which amount, in their totality, to a political revolution. The bre athtaking sequence since Thursday follows: On Friday: * The Communist Party daily Pravda publishes what may be its last issue after Yeltsin suspends the paper and five other party newspapers that had supported the coup. * Yeltsin issues a decree suspending the hard-line Russian Communist Party, despite Gorbachev's initial objections. * Gorbachev announces before Russian parliament that the entire Cabinet has been asked to resign. New ministers, replacing interim appointments of the day before, are announced, including Defense Minister and former Air Force chief Yevgeny Shaposhnikov, Interior Minister Viktor Barannikov, KGB chief Vadim Bakatin. On Saturday: * Yeltsin announces Russia's formal recognition of independence of Latvia and Estonia and calls on Gorbachev to follow suit. * Gorbachev resigns from party leadership, assailing the party leaders for failing to mobilize members against the coup. He bans party cells in all state organizations and orders local governments to take control of all party property. * The Russian government seizes the archives of the KGB and the Communist Party to prevent "illegal destruction of documents." * Gorbachev announces formation of the core of a new government, setting up a committee headed by Russian Prime Minister Ivan Silayev to manage the economy. It includes reformist industrialist Arkady Volsky, Moscow Deputy Mayor Yuri Luzhkov, and radical economist Grigory Yavlinsky, the author of the 500-day economic reform plan and widely believed to be the choice for the new Soviet prime minister. * With the support of 346 out of 450 deputies, the Ukrainian parliament votes to declare independence, with ratification by a Dec. 1 referendum. The parliament votes to create a Ukrainian currency and defense ministry and to take control of all Soviet military units on its territory. Ukrainian parliament head Leonid Kravchuk announces his resignation from the Soviet Communist Party Politburo and Central Committee. * Leningrad authorities seize and seal the Communist Party headquarters in the Smolny Institute, headquarters of the Bolshevik revolution of 1917. On Sunday: * The parliament in the republic of Moldavia announces it will declare independence today. Following these steps, the revolution is likely to sweep away the last of the institutions in which the old guard still holds power - the Supreme Soviet of the Soviet Union, the national parliament. A special session of the body has been called for this morning, with republican leaders reportedly to attend. The immediate target will be parliament chairman Anatoly Lukyanov, a long-time Gorbachev associate who is accused of being involved in the coup. But the democratic forces are also likely to seek a qui ck dissolution of the body and new elections. A meeting of deputies from the northwest region of Russia, called by Leningrad Mayor Anatoly Sobchak, called Saturday for an emergency meeting of the Congress of Peoples' Deputies, the parent legislative body, to appoint a new vice president and parliament head. The political revolution is poised to lead toward an economic revolution as the obstacles to radical moves to a market economy fall away. With the collapse of the Communist Party, which has been the main instrument for economic decisionmaking for decades, a market economy is a virtual necessity. The state bureaucracy is unable to exercise even the lessened level of control it has up to today. Indeed the collapse of existing institutions is so rapid that democratic leaders are warning of chaos and the need to ensure economic order, fearing that such conditions could give the conservatives another chance to seize power. "Now we have a sort of euphoria," Mr. Shevardnadze said. "But tomorrow, the day after tomorrow, in a week, in 10 days, the people will begin judging the leaders including the democrats by the way they cope with real problems.... The harvest is very bad, a slump in production is going on.... If we are not able to resolve the most urgent social and economic problems in a short ... time, the people may take to the streets, and then the question will arise: Who will be at the head of this movement."