Soviet Union: Why Are These Men Smiling?

By winning Yeltsin's support for a new union treaty, Gorbachev buys time -- but it could cost him six of the 15 Soviet republics

The concept of compromise, the lifeblood of Western-style democracies, has not made much headway with the Soviet Union's combative political leaders. To them the idea of settling amicably for something less than their maximum demands still smacks of irresoluteness and a lack of ideological purity. Such rigidity is the kind of shortcoming experts point to when they talk about the need for a more developed "political culture" in the U.S.S.R.

The steadily worsening national crisis has been pushing President Mikhail Gorbachev toward a choice between massive repression and a negotiated compromise with the dissident forces. Since his sharp turn toward toughness...

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