Politburo member Geidar Aliyev today told a Kremlin rally that the Soviet Union needed to "make new decisions and take bold steps" in dealing with its economic shortcomings.
In a speech honoring the 115th anniversary of Lenin's birth, Aliyev gave a forceful rendition of the themes sounded by new Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev in his first six weeks in office.
Aliyev, like Gorbachev a protege of the late Soviet leader Yuri Andropov, dwelt on the need to hold party leaders accountable "not by phrases but by deeds."
He urged the country's economic managers to resist a fondness for giving orders without consideration for the people's needs and "not to be afraid to promote young people."
The last point is expected to carry through the ranks this year as the Soviet Communist Party elects delegates to the 27th party congress, now expected to be held early next year. The congress will determine the composition of the 300-member Central Committee, the core of the nation's leadership.
Aliyev, who rose through the ranks of the KGB state security forces and the party in his native Azerbaijan, made a name for himself attacking widespread corruption there. He is now one of three first deputy prime ministers.
In the traditional Lenin birthday speech, he touched on the need to improve the Soviet economic performance, citing the coal, chemical, steel and railroad industries.
He called for a "rational use of wages, prices, cost and profit" in managing the Soviet Union's centralized economy. He also called for better efforts in the service sector, which, he said, should meet the needs of the people it serves, not the people who work in it. Managers who fail to meet standards of competency and moral responsibility should be moved out, not simply moved to other jobs, he said.
The stress on accountability by the leadership, on better use of existing resources and on greater independence for local managers has been sounded by Gorbachev, too, and in newspaper articles appearing since he became party leader on March 11. The same themes were first stressed by Andropov.
On foreign affairs, Aliyev emphasized cooperation with Moscow's socialist allies and accused the United States of aggravating world tensions with the pursuit of an arms race.
The Soviet Union and China said Monday that they want to increase political, economic, scientific and other ties, Tass reported, according to Reuter. The declaration followed a meeting between Soviet Foreign Minister Andrei Gromyko and Qian Qichen, head of a Chinese delegation visiting Moscow for talks aimed at improving strained relations.