The top economic adviser for Mikhail Gorbachev has left his post after writing a public letter accusing the Soviet president of criminal acts to prop up "a regime in its death throes."
A spokesman said Friday that economic adviser Nikolai Petrakov was out of a job, joining a growing list of reformers who have left Gorbachev's inner circle or been fired as Gorbachev has begun using more hard-line tactics. It was not immediately clear whether Petrakov had resigned or been removed.Others to have left include Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnadze, economist Stanislav Shatalin and Interior Minister Vadim Bakatin. Additionally, Politburo member Alexander Yakovlev, considered the godfather of Soviet reforms, has been dropped quietly from the government.
Of the reformers who have left Gorbachev's team, the departure of Shevardnadze was the most spectacular. He resigned last month, warning that "dictatorship was coming" to the Soviet Union. He later said in an interview he feared a repeat of military crackdowns that left scores dead in Georgia in 1989 and in Azerbaijan last year.
Petrakov could not be reached immediately for comment, but two associates said Gorbachev had been enraged by the open letter, which criticized him for tolerating the military attack Sunday against a Lithuanian television station that left 14 people dead.
An enraged Gorbachev cited the Moscow News letter Wednesday when he asked the Supreme Soviet legislature to suspend temporarily a new law guaranteeing freedom of the press.