President Mikhail Gorbachev nominated on Wednesday Gennady Yanayev, a Communist Party central committee secretary and Politburo member, to the new post of Soviet vice president.
Other nominations were possible from the floor of the Congress of People's Deputies, but it was expected that Gorbachev's candidate would be elected when the issue came to a vote later Wednesday.The nomination came shortly after the Congress gave final approval to a government reorganization that created the vice presidency and places the Cabinet and all government ministries under the president's direct control.
Embattled Premier Nikolai Ryzhkov, whose position was stripped of much of its power under the plan, suffered a heart attack Tuesday night and was hospitalized but apparently out of danger.
Yanayev, 53, is a longtime Communist Party official who earlier this year was made a full member of the party's ruling Politburo. He was formerly head of the party's youth organization, the Komsomol, and briefly served as head of the official trade union organization.
On Tuesday the Congress sanctioned 19 of 36 constitutional amendments proposed by Gorbachev in his sweeping overhaul of the Soviet government structure.
The remaining amendments were approved Wednesday and the entire package was adopted as a whole on a 1,551-110 vote, with 83 abstentions, overcoming opposition from liberal deputies and Gorbachev's arch rival, Russian Federation leader Boris Yeltsin.
Gorbachev argued for more executive powers to stem the country's slide into chaos and to prevent the spreading disorder from destroying the gains of his political and economic reforms.
The president persuaded deputies to streamline the gigantic Soviet government, give him hands-on control of the balky ministries and create several agencies to ensure enforcement of his decrees.
In his lone setback, Gorbachev agreed to withdraw his proposal for a Supreme Control Chamber, an agency that would have placed representatives around the vast country to ensure fulfillment of presidential decrees.
In a move that Gorbachev said balanced his increased powers with new support for local rule, the Congress voted to vest executive functions in the Council of the Federation, a formerly advisory body established in March to include the heads of each republic.