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URGENT Gorbachev Assails Yeltsin

November 13, 1987

MOSCOW (AP) _ Soviet leader Mikhail S. Gorbachev accused his former protege, Boris Yeltsin, of putting ″personal ambitions above the interests of the party″ and blaming others for his own shortcomings, Tass said Friday.

The official news agency, in an extraordinarily detailed account of an intraparty squabble, cited Gorbachev’s charges against the ousted Moscow Communist Party chief, and followed them with a scathing attack on Yeltsin by other, unidentified party leaders.

On Wednesday, the 56-year-old Yeltsin was removed from his post by a plenary meeting of Moscow’s party committee.

The ouster came after Yeltsin, in a closed Oct. 21 meeting of the party Central Committee, criticized the party’s style of leadership and said Gorbachev’s reforms were being put into effect too slowly. He threatened to resign.

Yeltsin’s speech to the Central Committee plenum, ″was on the whole politically immature, extremely confusing and contradictory,″ Gorbachev said at the Wednesday meeting, according to Friday’s Tass report.

He added that Yeltsin ″went as far as to say that (Gorbachev’s policies of) restructuring was giving virtually nothing to people.″

Yeltsin, who still holds a non-voting seat on the ruling Politburo, was the highest ranking protege of the Soviet leader to lose his post since Gorbachev became Communist Party general secretary in March 1985.

There had been some doubt whether Gorbachev sought Yeltsin’s removal or was pressured into going along with it, but the Tass account put the Communist Party chief’s stamp on the firing of Yeltsin, who had been a fervent proponent of ″perestroika,″ the restructuring of the Soviet economy and society.

The Tass dispatches provided the fullest account yet of the Oct. 21 meeting.

Yeltsin’s remarks to the Central Committee reportedly drew a rebuke from Yegor K. Ligachev, the No. 2 Kremlin leader who is believed to be a conservative.

Tass disclosed that Yeltsin had informed Gorbachev of his intention to resign after the general secretary returned from vacation this fall. The two men ″agreed it was not an appropriate time to discuss this issue″ on the eve of the Soviet Union’s celebration of the 70th anniversary of the Bolshevik Revolution, Tass said.

But the agency said, ″nevertheless, Yeltsin, in breach of party ethics, raised this issue directly at the plenary meeting in circumvention of the Politburo.″

In an apparent effort to dispell concern that Yeltsin’s firing would chill ″glasnost,″ Gorbachev’s policy of encouraging greater openness of expression, the party chief was said to have stressed that a Central Committee member making critical remarks at a plenum ″should not in itself be viewed as something extraordinary.″

But Yeltsin, the report said, ″tried to sidetrack the work of the plenum,″ which was called to consider Gorbachev’s speech opening the anniversary celebration.

″Reflecting on what had happened with Boris Yeltsin, Mikhail Gorbachev said that Boris Yeltsin had placed personal ambitions above the interests of the party,″ Tass said.

Yeltsin’s party organization tried to achieve change by pressure, Tass said, and when that didn’t work, Yeltsin ″tried to place responsibility for his own major shortcomings in work on others.″

In violation of orders, the agency added, he launched a round of personnel reshuffling. Yeltsin has said he replaced about 40 percent of the people in the Moscow party organization to get rid of opponents of Gorbachev’s programs.

Tass said Gorbachev’s remarks at Wednesday’s Moscow party committee meeting were followed by comments from other participants who accused the ousted party boss of ″political adventurism″ and making ″ultra-left and extra-radical declarations.″

Yeltsin was said to have restated his faith in the party’s general line and confessed that he had exhibited personal ambition.

″I tried to check it but, regrettably, without success,″ he was quoted as saying.

Communists in Moscow were called to meetings Thursday to hear why Yeltsin was ousted, Tass said. The same day, the ruling Politburo, in its regular weekly meeting, called on Soviets to work for the ″democratizati on of social life and radical economic reform.″ The remarks seemed designed to limit the impact of Yeltsin’s firing.

Yeltsin was replaced by Lev N. Zaikov, 63, a Gorbachev ally and Politburo member who once ran the party apparatus in Leningrad, the Soviet Union’s second largest city.

Yeltsin, former party chief in the Urals industrial city of Sverdlovsk, was brought to Moscow in December 1985 to head the capital’s party apparatus.

His efforts to improve housing, the food supply and mass transit made him popular with many Muscovites.

However, his calls to end special services for party and state officials reportedly alienated many bureaucrats.

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