The No. 2 man in the Kremlin, hard-liner Yegor Ligachev, failed to attend a pair of important ideological meetings in Moscow, Pravda said Thursday in another indication he has been stripped of his role as chief of ideology within the Communist Party.

The Communist Party daily newspaper said the meetings, one of historians and the other of journalists and writers, were addressed by Alexander Yakovlev, a trusted aide to Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev and a staunch supporter of Gorbachev's reforms.Sources in Moscow have said Yakovlev is likely to succeed Ligachev as head of ideology.

No mention was made of Ligachev, who instead spent the day meeting with the head of the South African Communist Party, Joe Slovo, who is on an official visit to Moscow.