The national legislature Friday asked President Mikhail S. Gorbachev to quickly sign temporary agreements with the 15 Soviet republics to prevent the further breakup of the country and stabilize the economy.
In a resolution approved 272-88 with 40 abstentions, the Supreme Soviet also endorsed - for the second time in a week - Gorbachev's proposal to eliminate the Council of Ministers, or Soviet Cabinet, and make another body the highest state organ.In a 10-minute speech, Gorbachev told the 542-member legislature that "every day is precious" and urged them to move swiftly toward a new union treaty to replace the 1920s accord grouping the republics.
The lawmakers, however, told Gorbachev to act first. Their resolution asked him, within a month, to draft and sign with representatives of the republics temporary agreements that would help stabilize the "social and economic situation in the country."
The agreements would also try to end what Gorbachev
and other leaders have called the country's "paralysis of power."
The resolution calls for the agreements to stop legal contradictions between the central Soviet government and the republics. In their drives for sovereignty or outright independents, the republics have been passing laws that ignore or even contradict national legislation.
Some politicians have suggested a temporary moratorium on republican legislation that contradicts national laws.
All but one of the country's 15 republics have declared sovereignty from the Kremlin.
Friday's Supreme Soviet resolution, adopted amid fears that food will be in short supply this winter, also calls for "immediate steps to improve the food situation.
"The situation in the country continues to worsen and is approaching a crisis condition. The balance between goods and money has been destroyed by severe mistakes," the resolution says.
Last Saturday, Gorbachev himself had promised to announce emergency food measures within two weeks. In the past month, he has been touring Western Europe in search of foreign food aid.