July 2, 1988 – Free-For-All At The Politburo – Doing The Unthinkable In Moscow
July 2, 1988 – Ordinarily, the big news would be the presence of some 80 Russian inspectors arriving in the U.S. to observe compliance over the Soviet/U.S. Medium and Shorter range Missile treaty, along with a comparable U.S. team arriving in Russia to do the same – it was all eclipsed by the goings on in Moscow.
All bets were off – the rules changed radically in Moscow as a just-concluded conference of the Soviet Communist Party – the first such Party meeting in some 47 years. It became a different Soviet Union on this day than even it was a week earlier as the rule book got tossed out the window. Soviets witnessed the unthinkable at the Party Conference, even as it was being broadcast live on television. Criticizing Party leaders, criticizing Gorbachev’s Perestroika Economic reforms for not moving fast enough. Gorbachev said he wanted the party conference to be a free-for-all, and that’s what it was; an opening up as dramatic as any fan of Glastnost could want. There were proposals for reform, and they all passed. Among them, a Party plan to limit members to 10 years in office; a plan which included the office Gorbachev then held. Another plan, to build a Stalin monument; but not one praising the leader, rather one that would honor his millions of victims. The Soviet Union, coming to terms with its past. If there was a message to be gotten about the past, it was that it wasn’t working anymore; the old ways were on their way out. To which Gorbachev added “the old ways are gone”.
And closer to home – the Defense contract scandal was heating up. Word that payments of upwards to a $billion were being held up by Defense Department officials. And that was, at some pointed out, the tip of the iceberg.
All that, and a lot more for this July 2, 1988 as reported by The CBS World News Roundup.