Boris N. Yeltsin emerged from a stormy Russian parliament session Friday with new powers and increased prospects of election this summer to a strengthened presidency. The post would be a powerful platform from which to challenge the leadership of Mikhail S. Gorbachev.
After nine days of debate, the Russian Federation Congress of People's Deputies set the presidential election for June 12 and granted Yeltsin temporary authority to pursue more radical reforms than the Soviet president has implemented."There are no obstacles now that can get in the way of cooperation between Russia and the union," Yeltsin declared at the end of the extraordinary session.
But reformers in the stalemated parliament failed to amend Russia's Constitution to make the powers permanent under a new post of Russian president that Yeltsin is expected to fill. They managed only to agree to meet May 21 for another session to try to approve the presidency, and on the election date.
As expected, the session reflected the deep divisions between hard-liners backing Gorbachev, in power since March 1985, and the radicals backing Yeltsin.
But Yeltsin said in his final speech that he was seeking conciliation with Gorbachev.
Yeltsin praised a group of lawmakers who tempered their demands for Gorbachev to resign as president. The legislators said it was more important to shift power from the central government to the 15 Soviet republics.
"We categorically reject attempts to remove the current president from his post without changing the existing structure of power," said a statement issued by Col. Alexander Rutskoi, the leader of the new "Communists for Democracy" group. He was joined by two leading radical reformers, Vladimir Lysensko and Oleg Rumyantsev.
Yeltsin's new powers and the promise of election put him in position to force Gorbachev to cooperate with leaders of the Soviet Union's largest and richest republic.