Fellow lawmakers accused Russian republic President Boris N. Yeltsin on Wednesday of declaring a civil war and seeking more power for himself by calling for Mikhail S. Gorbachev's resignation.
The Supreme Soviet legislature adopted a resolution condemning Yeltsin, saying his televised statement Tuesday was "aimed at replacing the lawful organs of state power and the resignation of the president. It contradicts the constitution and aggravates the situation in the country."But the official Tass news agency said Supreme Soviet Chairman Anatoly Lukyanov did not allow everyone to speak before the resolution's adoption, including deputies who planned to defend Yeltsin. The measure passed 292-29, with 27 abstentions.
Yeltsin's appeal in a nationally televised interview was the first time he publicly called for the Soviet president to step down. He said Gorbachev was sacrificing reform to gain personal power and establish a dictatorship.
"Such a statement as Boris Nikolayevich made yesterday is practically an announcement of a civil war," said Anatoly Chekhoyev, a member of the hard-line parliamentary group Soyuz. He repeated the group's demand that Gorbachev impose a nationwide state of emergency to curb unrest.
Erkin Yusupov, a deputy from the Central Asian republic of Uzbekistan, called Yeltsin's call "a blatant manifestation of sick ambitions and claims to power."
Neither Yeltsin nor Gorbachev attended Wednesday's legislative session.
Other harsh reaction came from the main Communist Party newspaper. Pravda accused Yeltsin in a front-page editorial of worsening the Soviet Union's political crisis by calling for Gorbachev's resignation.
Yeltsin - who leads the largest, richest and most populous republic - has frequently clashed with Gorbachev over the pace and method of political and economic reform.
Yeltsin, ousted from Gorbachev's Politburo in 1988, urges a faster transition to a market economy and the transfer of more power from the central government to the 15 republics.
"I warned in 1987 that Gorbachev has in his character a tendency to absolute personal power," Yeltsin said in his interview Tuesday. "He has done all that and has led the country to a dictatorship, giving it a pretty name: presidential rule.
"I am in favor of his immediate resignation, with the power being transferred to a collective organ, the Federation Council," Yeltsin said, referring to the body that includes the president and the heads of the republics.
Gorbachev has acquired from the legislature the power to rule by decree and lately has taken a more law-and-order stand in dealing with a collapsing economy, restive republics and ethnic violence.
Gorbachev has cracked down on independence movements in the Baltics, where 22 people died from clashes last month. He granted broad powers to the KGB to fight hoarding, black marketeering and other economic crimes.