A Foreign Ministry spokesman has confirmed that Politburo member Yegor Ligachev is no longer the No. 2 man in the ruling leadership.
Spokesman Gennady Gerasimov also indicated Monday that more power changes might be in the works, saying "not all duties and offices have been distributed."Ligachev, 67, who headed the powerful ideological portfolio, was put in charge of agriculture during the Sept. 30 Kremlin shakeup by leader Mikhail Gorbachev.
Although an obvious loss of power, the job switch did not affect Ligachev's standing as a full member of the 12-man Politburo, the main policy making body in the country. Traditionally, the holder of the ideological portfolio has been the No. 2 man in the Kremlin lineup. The ideological portfolio is now held by Alexander Yakovlev, a close associate of Gorbachev, but diplomats say who is next in line remains unclear.
Gerasimov was asked at a briefing whether Ligachev was still the No. 2 man in the Politburo behind Gorbachev.
"What you call the No. 2 does not exist," Gerasimov said.
During Gorbachev's absences for vacations and trips abroad, Ligachev had chaired the meetings of the Politburo.
But Gerasimov explained that now when Gorbachev is away, the Politburo members decide who will take over for the leader at the weekly meetings.
During Gorbachev's last absence during an August vacation, Ligachev made a speech in the city of Gorki warning against the perils of introducing a market economy in the Soviet Union.