Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev brought up the "outrageous" treatment of comrade A.I. Chabanov yesterday as an example of belligerent local resistance that has blocked adoption of new ideas and new methods of work in much of the Soviet Union.
As Gorbachev told it in a report to the Communist Party leadership, Chabanov was acting manager of an electrical plant in Cherkassy in the Ukraine who showed initiative, introduced new technology and tried to improve finances.
For those efforts, he was relieved of his job and expelled from the Communist Party -- and when some local people tried to defend him in a letter to Moscow, the appeal was intercepted at the post office by local authorities.
Chabanov's case is not alone. Gorbachev mentioned a shop superintendent at a chemical plant in Sverdlovsk who devised a better way to organize his workers. He, too, was expelled from the party; his status was restored only after the case appeared in the Communist Party newspaper Pravda and was examined by the Central Committee.
"V. P. Bakharev was punished because he aspired to work according to the new methods and to take more upon himself," Pravda concluded last month.
Such cases have appeared more and more frequently in the Soviet press, and yesterday they formed the core of Gorbachev's complaints about the sluggish progress of his program to "restructure" the Soviet economy and society.
Three-and-a-half months after a congress of the Soviet Communist Party endorsed this theme, Gorbachev showed a new impatience, frustration, even outrage at the pace of change.
"I must say that reorganization is still unduly slow," he said bluntly.
Gorbachev did give some good news on the post-congress economy. Industrial growth is up 5.7 percent over the same period last year, and some industries -- coal, iron, steel and railways -- have taken a turn for the better, he said.
He also proposed a few new measures, in addition to the major shifts in investment policy endorsed at the congress, for the 1986-1990 five-year plan to be adopted this week by the Supreme Soviet.
For example, he proposed that double shifts be adopted at some factories, that the construction industry be brought to heel and more than 100 unnecessary projects be put on hold and that 5 million manual workers be shifted from their jobs over the next five years.
He returned to themes established early in his term in office: the need to reconstruct and modernize, to save resources and to encourage input from below while streamlining the central planning process.
But the main focus of his domestic message yesterday was all those officials -- from central ministry aides to local party leaders -- standing in the way of his program.
He used an almost-threatening tone to attack "sluggishness, inveterate habits and fossilized psychology." He was harshest on those at the local level who support programs adopted at the party congress but do nothing to implement them.
"Sometimes, words are substituted for deeds, practical action does not follow criticisms, and self-criticism resembles self-flagellation," he said.
Regional authorites came in for criticism, but so did central planners. Gorbachev singled out "high-ranking officials of the state planning committees" who "began to defend the outmoded planning systems with might and main."
He chided them for not adopting new management documents "more quickly" after the party congress, and for failing to take bold steps.
Gorbachev hit hard at the prevailing system of gearing factory production to "gross output," a method that encourages waste and ignores demand.
"We are fighting for efficiency," he said, "but look at the really stupid situation in which economic managers find themselves: they manufacture a cheap product and get a dressing-down for failing to meet the target assignment in terms of rubles. They introduce a novelty, save resources and again it turns out that they have placed their enterprises and sometimes even the whole industry in a tight spot . . . "
"Remembering the lessons of the past, we must in advance warn all those who are obliged to fulfill the program of updating the engineering industry: No retreats from what has been outlined, no references to objective or subjective reasons can be made here," he said.