Gorbachev Criticized but Wins Parliament Seat

Times Staff Writer

Mikhail S. Gorbachev, the Soviet president, won election as a Communist Party deputy to the country’s new parliament Wednesday but not before three party members had questioned his suitability for office.

Taking advantage of glasnost, the policy of political openness instituted by Gorbachev, the three had written the party’s policy-making Central Committee arguing that he must also accept responsibility for the country’s problems since he was a member of the leadership in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

The committee, which is holding a two-day meeting on agricultural policy, nevertheless voted for Gorbachev and all 99 other candidates who were nominated two months ago. None was opposed, according to reports by the official Soviet news agency Tass, and all received the approval of at least half of the participants in the meeting.

But Valentin A. Koptyug, chairman of the party’s electoral commission, said that several of the top party leaders were criticized during the election process, a contrast to the past practice of unquestioning acceptance of such Central Committee decisions.


The most criticized apparently was Yegor K. Ligachev, Central Committee secretary in charge of agriculture and voice of conservatism within the ruling Politburo.

Koptyug said the commission received 25 letters criticizing Ligachev, particularly his cautious approach to political and economic reform and his scathing denunciation of Boris N. Yeltsin, a popular former member of the Politburo, last summer at a party conference.

The elections have been a valuable political process for the party, encouraging discussion of both its policies and leaders, Koptyug said in outlining the criticism the top leaders received. Altogether, more than 12,000 letters, telegrams and resolutions have been received from party organizations and members commenting on the party’s candidates and election platform.

Constitutional amendments adopted late last year allocate 100 seats to the Communist Party in the 750-member Chamber of Deputies elected from “public organizations.” Although party members had suggested more than 31,500 people for those seats, the party Secretariat had reduced them to 314, and the Central Committee then nominated 100, one for each seat, at a meeting in January.


Those elected as the party’s representatives included most members of the 12-member Politburo--a few are running in local constituencies--along with 26 workers, 22 professionals and intellectuals, 21 other party officials and 7 farmers.

Allied groups, such as the Communist Youth League and the country’s trade unions, also have sizable blocs in that chamber. In addition, more than 80% of the candidates running for the 1,500 territorial seats in two other chambers are also party members, but in many cases face stiff competition.