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Perspective
Volume 1, No 1 (October 1990)

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Gorbachev Versus the Apparat?
By GORDON HAHN
Institute for the Study of Conflict, Ideology and Policy

In September 1988 six CPSU commissions were created to make policy proposals to the Politburo on the "most important issues in the life of the party and the country." The new commissions were intended to constitute the highest-level advisory bodies to the Politburo. More importantly, the creation of the commissions enabled Gorbachev to circumvent the CC departments, the backbone of the traditional party apparatus which was obstructing perestroika. In the apparat's place, the members of the "electoral organs" of the CPSU, i.e., the Central Committee and to a lesser extent the Central Revision (now Control) Commission, were to be brought into the decision-making process. This was part of Gorbachev's attempt to destroy the power of the apparatchiki thereby facilitating the separation of the party's functions from those of the state.

With the aid of the Institute's computer database, which includes extensive information on party appointments, it is possible to draw tentative conclusions on the Gorbachev leadership's attitudes toward top-level party bodies. The membership of the commissions was announced at the November 1988 Party Plenum. Subsequently two more commissions were established, an Interethnic Commission (December 1989) and a Culture, Education, and Science Commission, created by the 28th Congress in July. Thus there now appears to be a total of eight commissions (although the Interethnic Commission has not been referred to again since its creation was announced). At the 28th Congress a major "cleansing" of the party's leadership took place that included a large number of retirements from the Central Committee. Assuming that CC membership is a requirement for commission membership, Table I lists the most prominent members originally appointed and indicates in boldface the surviving members. Members of CC departments (discussed below) are indicated by daggers. Former and current commission members appointed in March to the Presidential Council (eight of seventeen) are indicated by asterisks. Two (Medvedev and Yakovlev) originally served as commission chairmen.

Table 1. The Commissions and Their Membership

Boldface indicates members who remain after the 28th Party Congress.
^indicates CC department members originally appointed to commissions.
Former and current commission members appointed to the Presidential Council in March 1990 are indicated by asterisks.

Agrarian Commission
(original total 20 members)
[new chairman: Stroyev]
   
Ligachev (chairman)
Gostev
Masaliyev
Mesyats
Murakhovsky
Nazarbayev
Polozkov
Ponomarev

Sakalauskas
Skiba^
Sokolov
Stroyev

Culture Education and Science Commission
(Members not yet appointed)

Ideological Commission
(original total 24 members)
[new chairman: Dzasokhov]
Medvedev* (chairman)
Afanas'yev
Frolov
Kapto^
Karpov
Kuptsov
Marchuk
Nenashev

Vagris
Yagodin
   

International Commission
(original total 22 members)
[new chairman: Yanaev]
Yakovlev* (chairman)
Akhromeyev
Arbatov
Arutyunyan
Chernyaev
Falin^
Kryuchkov*

Laptev
Luchinsky
Manayenkov
Nishanov
Novozhilov
Primakov*
Revenko*
Tereshkova
Valyas
Velikhov
Vezirov

Party-Building and Cadres Commission
(original total 23 members)
[new chairman: ?Shenin]
Razumovsky^ (chairman)
Boldin*^
Boldyryov
Ivashko
Kruchina^
Malkov
Niyazov
Pugo
Razumov
Usmanov
Shevchenko

Socioeconomic Commission
(original total 21 members)
[new chairman undetermined]
Slyun'kov (chairman)
Afonin
Biryukova
Brakov*
Chazov
Frolov
Khodyryov
Korolyov
Malofeyev
Maslyukov*

Saikin
Vlasov

State and Legal Comrnission
(original total 18 members)
[new chairman undetermined]
Chebrikov (chairman)
Bakatin*
Bobkov
Brazauskas
Girenko
Kravtsov
Lizichev
Logunov
Makhkamov
Rubtsov
Terebilov

If the commissions are to play a significant role in party affairs, a large number of appointments to already existing commissions will be required, in addition to staffing two additional commissions. As Table I shows, at the Congress three new commission chairmen were appointed, and Shenin may be slated to be the new head of the Party Building and Cadre Commission, since he has assumed these functions in the Secretariat. In the past, all commission chairmen have been simultaneously Politburo members and CC Secretaries. It will not be possible to follow this precedent in filling all four vacant chairmanships, since there are only two candidates with the necessary dual status (V.A. Ivashko and G.V. Semyonova). According to the November 1988 resolution, the commissions were to "present draft documents and analytical materials" to the Politburo. However, most of the commissions have held far fewer meetings than the minimum four times per year required by the resolution, the International Commission being the least active. In fact, for a period of 13 months this commission did not meet.

As part of the policy of breaking the power of the apparatus, in August 1988 the decision was announced to eliminate 11 departments, leaving only nine. Table II shows the departmental reorganization. The November 1988 resolution made it clear that the departments were to be subordinated to the commissions, and were to play an advisory role to the new higher bodies. The abolition of the majority of the departments was accompanied by an extensive purge of the department staff. Between the fall 1988 reorganization and the 28th Congress, 680 apparatchiki were eliminated. The reorganization of the apparatus and the establishment of commissions were intended to bring about the "further activization of the Central Committee." Thus of the total 128 members of the original six commissions (excluding chairmen and a cochairman), 114 were either CC full or candidate members, of whom 30 remain in the current CC. On the other hand, as Table I shows, only six of the original commission members were drawn from the CC departments. The seniority of commission chairmen further emphasizes the standing of the commissions. Department heads have been at most CC members (with the sole exception of the original Party Building Commission chairman G.P. Razumovsky, who was then a Politburo candidate member and CC Secretary). Finally, it is noteworthy that of the total of 53 CC members re-elected at the 28th Congress, 30 were commission members, whereas only nine department members remained on the Central Committee.

Both the original reorganization and the subject areas of departments created subsequently confirm the planned change in the functions of the party apparatus from executive-administrative responsibilities to a political-advisory role. The August 1988 memorandum on the reorganization made it clear that the Agrarian and Defense Departments were being retained only during a "transitional stage." On the other hand, in November 1989 and April 1990 an Interethnic Department and a Department for Work with Sociopolitical Organizations were set up. In addition, at the 28th Congress not only was the Culture, Education, and Science Commission established, but also Gorbachev called for the creation of a Women's Issues Department (although there was no reference to it in the Congress's resolutions).

As well as appointments of Gorbachev supporters in the new Central Committee to the many commission vacancies, possibly accompanied by the establishment of new commissions headed by high-ranking party officials, another purge of the traditional apparatus may be expected. At a meeting of the Central Committee Secretariat on August 7, the decision was announced to "finally reject nomenklatura stereotypes," i.e., the nomenklatura principle of appointments. In addition, the size of the apparatus is to be cut further, and attestations (performance reviews) are to conducted for all the members of the Central Committee apparatus

 

Table 2. Effects of CC Reorganization

 Before  After
Administration of Affairs Administration of Affairs
Head: Kruchina
Administrative Organs State and Legal Policy
Head: Pavlov
Agriculture and Food Industry Agrarian
Head: Skiba
Chemical Industry Abolished
Construction Abolished
Culture Abolished
Defense Industry Defense
Head: Belyakov
Economy Socioeconomic
Head: Shimko
Foreign Cadres and Foreign Travel Abolished
General General
Head: Boldin**
Heavy Industry and Energy Supply Abolished
International International
Head: Falin**
Liaison with Communist and Worker Parties of Socialist Countries Abolished
Light Industry and Consumer Goods Abolished
Machine Building Abolished
Organizational-Party Work Party-Building and Cadres
Head: Razumovsky
Propaganda Ideological
Head: Kapto
Science and Educational Institutions Abolished
Trade and Services Abolished
Transport and Communication Abolished
Interethnic Relations*
Head: Mikhailov
Sociopolitical Organizations*
Head: Kuptsov***
 * Created at the 28th Congress, July 1990.
** Member of the Presidential Council.
*** Central Committee Secretary since 28th Congress.

 


Copyright ISCIP 1990
Unless otherwise indicated, all articles appearing in this journal have been commissioned especially for
Perspective.




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