The national parliament tried to counter local sovereignty declarations by asserting that national laws supersede all others, but the country's two most populous republics responded by strengthening their claims to local control.
As the central Supreme Soviet, or parliament, was voting at the Kremlin Wednesday for a law declaring parts of the republics' sovereignty acts invalid, the Russian legislature meeting across town passed a law requiring that central government acts be ratified at the republican level.And in the Ukraine to the south, the republican legislature proclaimed local laws have precedence over national ones in a measure that also included a requirement for republican ratification of central acts, the official Tass news agency said.
Thirteen of the 15 Soviet republics have declared sovereignty since the beginning of the year, and many of them - including Russia, the Ukraine and the independence-minded Baltic republics - have declared that their laws supersede national ones on their territory.
In addition to the republican declarations of sovereignty, autonomous regions and even cities within the republics have declared their own authority is supreme. Ten of the 16 "autonomous republics" within the Russian republic have declared sovereignty.
The declarations of sovereignty have led to what Tass called a "war of laws" between the local and national governments, with each side declaring laws invalid and often simply trying to ignore acts by the other side.
A new "union treaty" is planned to spell out the rights and responsibilities of the central governments and the republics, but work on the draft treaty is hampered by disputes over which side will have what powers.
Wednesday's law passed by the national Supreme Soviet "reaffirms the supremacy of federal legislation over republican legal acts within the center's sphere of responsibility."