The Russian parliament voted Tuesday to take part in negotiations for a new Union Treaty that Mikhail S. Gorbachev says is needed to hold the Soviet Union together, the state news agency Tass reported.
But Russian Federation President Boris N. Yeltsin cautioned the Gorbachev administration against undue haste and said it was trying to "rush the signing of the treaty."The vote in the Russian Federation Congress of People's Deputies marked a small victory for Gorbachev.
It committed the largest Soviet republic to be "a full-fledged subject of the renewed USSR on the basis of a new Union Treaty." But Yeltsin has insisted the national government must agree to hand over broad economic and political powers to the 15 Soviet republics before he will sign the treaty.
The resolution passed by Russian lawmakers gives Yeltsin strong leverage in negotiations with Gorbachev, because it asserts the right of each republic to self-determination and gives the central government responsibility for defense, state security and foreign policy.
The draft proposed by Gorbachev would retain broader powers for the central government, including control over transportation and energy supplies.
Yeltsin has insisted that Russia, which contains most of the Soviet land mass and has most of its natural resources, should control oil, natural gas, gold and diamond supplies on its own territory.
Other republics have made similar demands as they seek greater powers within their borders.
The Russian parliament decided to appoint a commission of lawmakers to work with representatives of the central government and other republics to work on the draft Union Treaty. No date has been set for its completion.
Gorbachev has urged communist leaders to bolster his campaign to pass a Union Treaty, although it would drop the word "socialist" from the country's name and replace it with "sovereign."
The president, who also heads the Communist Party, urged its Central Committee on Monday to create a "strong political desire for the preservation and renewal of the union."
"What is profitable for separatists is absolutely fatal for the majority of workers," Gorbachev said. The meeting was closed to journalists, and a text of his speech was carried later by Tass.