Allies of Mikhail S. Gorbachev failed Tuesday to win quick approval by the Russian republic's congress for the president's proposed treaty to keep the union together.
Russian reformers argued the proposal should be discussed thoroughly by the public before lawmakers vote on it.Quick adoption of the union treaty by the largest of the 15 republics would have been a tremendous victory for Gorbachev as he tries to keep the country from splintering.
It would have been a defeat for Russia's president, Boris N. Yeltsin, and other republic leaders who are trying to diminish the central government's power. Approval of the union treaty would commit them to remain united with a strong central government headed by Gorbachev.
As Gorbachev beamed from an isolated balcony in the Grand Kremlin Palace, his allies in the Congress of Russian Peoples' Deputies tried to force Yeltsin to include adoption of the treaty on the congress' agenda.
A senior aide to Chancellor Helmut Kohl flew to Moscow on Tuesday to discuss the logistics of distributing German food donations to help the Soviet Union.
Horst Teltschik, Kohl's adviser on East-West affairs, headed a 12-person delegation of German government experts on the two-day visit.
"We want to make sure that the goods . . . do get to those they are destined for and do not end on the black market," Teltschik said.
The Soviet Union has raised the issue of food assistance in recent weeks, saying it would ease the burden of economic restructuring in the country. Despite a bumper grain crop, there have been reports of spotty shortages of some foods, apparently due to shipping and economic dislocations.
Teltschik said his delegation will examine the logistics of transporting food donations from Germany to the areas where they are most needed.