Conservative deputies at a special congress Saturday demanded that Mikhail Gorbachev impose a six-month state of emergency throughout the Soviet Union and warned they will push for his resignation if he fails to take action.
The Soyuz (Union) bloc of hard-line lawmakers also called for a partial rollback of April 2 price hikes, more social welfare to cushion their impact, annulment of the recently imposed 5 percent sales tax, a ban on strikes, suspension of new political parties and restrictions on press freedoms."If the president of the USSR (Gorbachev) cannot guarantee civil order and ensure human rights and is incapable of introducing a state of emergency in the country, the deputies' group Soyuz is prepared to assume full responsibility for realizing a state of emergency," said Yuri Blokhin, the group's chairman.
Col. Viktor Alksnis pronounced Gorbachev's perestroika reform program a failure and said his policies have produced "a national catastrophe."
Former Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnadze ridiculed Alksnis, a leader of the hard-liners who have reasserted their political strength in recent months, as one of the "boys in colonel's stripes" when Shevardnadze resigned in December.
Blokhin and other conservatives met with Gorbachev two weeks ago and dropped their demands for a special Congress of People's Deputies to consider removing him, but those demands resurfaced at the opening of the Soyuz bloc's second annual gathering.
"If Mikhail Gorbachev proves himself unable to do this (impose a state of emergency), a Congress of People's Deputies should be held in order to get Gorbachev to resign," Blokhin said.