Many Communist Party officials are unprepared or unwilling to accept the swift changes wrought by the political reforms of President Mikhail S. Gorbachev, the party newspaper Pravda said Friday.
The editorial followed by one day the newspaper's publication of startling admissions of failure made by party officials at a meeting of the policy-making Central Committee on Tuesday.A senior Western diplomat said Friday the publication of the admissions may have been a device used by Gorbachev to force the officials to more solidly back his program of political restructuring, known as perestroika.
Pravda said political activity has rapidly increased during the past year and democratization is gaining ground.
"In many cases, however, party organizations and functionaries have proved unprepared for the rapid progress in extending democracy," the newspaper said. "A number of party committees and local governing councils are lagging behind the times in their attitudes, styles, methods and interpretation of events."
It said many officials were lapsing "into old thinking, nostalgia for authoritarian leadership and panicky attempts to check grassroots initiatives under the pretext of protecting socialism."
Pravda called on all party members, committees and organizations to follow the line of change initiated by Gorbachev, regardless of current difficulties facing the economy and society.
The diplomat said some of the 20 speakers at the Central Committee meeting may have been taken by surprise when Gorbachev suggested their comments be published.
The speeches were sharply critical of the party. For example, Moscow Mayor Valery T. Saikin said, "The people feel uncomfortable, alarmed, have lost their optismism, and various generations of people, separate social levels and even regions are quarreling with themselves."
As a result, said Saikin, who lost in the recent elections for the new Congress of People's Deputies, party organizations "have lost their vanguard role."
Gorbachev, in closing remarks at the meeting Tuesday, agreed perestroika was going poorly and was worsening shortages of housing, consumer goods and food. But, the 58-year-old leader said, people still have faith in the party.
Gorbachev gained strength to push for more extreme action at Tuesday's meeting when 74 of the Central Committee's 301 members retired.
Because of age, illness or political disgrace, those who stepped down had lost the top government or party job that entitled them to membership. The remarks of some of those who retired were published Thursday.
Among them was Geidar Aliev, the 65-year-old former party chief in Azerbaijan and a close associate of former President Leonid Brezhnev.
Vladimir Melnikov, chief of the Komi region, told the committee that many officials are so afraid of the people's wrath that they are refusing to run in the next round of elections on May 14.