Soviet Union Face-Off on Reform

Sakharov is gone, but Gorbachev still confronts an angry, outspoken opposition

The second session of the Congress of People's Deputies had barely begun last week when a bald, stoop-shouldered man hesitantly made his way to the front of the Kremlin Palace of Congresses. Mikhail Gorbachev motioned for Deputy Andrei Sakharov to step up to the podium, then settled back in his seat, not quite sure what to expect.

In a quavering voice, Sakharov urged the more than 2,000 parliamentarians to change the agenda of the meeting and discuss deleting articles from the constitution that stand in the way of urgently needed economic reforms. Disapproving murmurs rumbled through the hall. Was Sakharov trying...

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