Russian Federation President Boris N. Yeltsin on Tuesday called for the immediate resignation of Soviet President Mikhail S. Gorbachev, accusing him of "bringing the country to the edge of dictatorship."
The demand, made in a nationally televised appearance by Yeltsin, was the strongest and most public attack he has made on Gorbachev in months and seemed likely to rekindle the crisis in Soviet domestic politics.Yeltsin said that his biggest mistake since becoming president of the Russian Federation parliament in May was placing too much trust in Gorbachev.
Yeltsin's call came two months after Eduard A. Shevardnadze resigned as foreign minister, saying he believed the Soviet Union was headed toward a dictatorship. The resignation stunned the nation and raised fears among reformers of a return to hard-line Communist rule.
"In Gorbachev's character, there is a streak of striving for personal power," said Yeltsin. "He has brought the country to the edge of dictatorship. I think he should resign immediately."
Yeltsin's remarks, broadcast live, came after most government offices closed, and there was no immediate reaction from Kremlin spokesmen.
The centrally controlled media, particularly the state broadcast monopoly, have criticized Yeltsin relentlessly over the past month, after he criticized Gorbachev's crackdown in the Baltic republics.
Yeltsin described his efforts to appear on Soviet television Tuesday as difficult.
During the 40-minute appearance, he answered toughly worded questions from two Soviet journalists, who reflected the Kremlin line that Yeltsin was one of the main causes of instability in the Soviet Union.
Yeltsin saved his harshest words for the end of the broadcast and included an apology.
"We will not be able to live better under the present center,' Yeltsin said, referring to the Kremlin. "Not with the constant policy of deception of the people by the center."