Soviet legislators, looking resolutely to the past but anxiously to the future, ended a 12-day session condemning the 1979 invasion of Afghanistan and appealing for "wisdom and good will" to solve national problems.
Mikhail Gorbachev, closing the second session of the new Congress of People's Deputies Sunday, warned lawmakers that "in the short-est possible time, we must end consumer shortages, stop the purchasing power of the ruble from falling further and rein in speculation."In a frank admission of widespread discontent with his "peres-troika" reform drive, the Soviet leader added: "Everyone must soon feel that things are changing for the better."
State-run Soviet television broadcast a year-end review Sunday in which most of the 10 people interviewed said their lives had not improved in 1989.
But Gorbachev pointedly insisted his promotion of "a democratic and humane socialism" is "a source of our unprecedented international authority."
The Congress, heeding Gorbachev's instructions to fill in the "blank spots" in Soviet history, reversed a half century of Kremlin denials and admitted the existence of the 1939 Hitler-Stalin secret protocols that led to the dropping of the Iron Curtain over Europe.
Lawmakers also denounced the use of force against demonstrators in the April 9 crackdown that left 21 people dead in the Georgian capital of Tbilisi but refused to endorse a committee report criticizing privileges for senior Communist Party and government officials.
The 2,250-member Congress, formed nine months ago in unprecedented multicandidate elections, meets twice a year to consider measures approved by the Supreme Soviet, the 542-seat permanent legislative body chosen from its ranks in May.
The Congress approved a measure saying the decision by a small clique of officials to invade Afghanistan in December 1979 deserves "moral and political condemnation."
The resolution approved by deputies criticized, by name, former Soviet leaders Leonid Brezhnev and Yuri Andropov, President Andrei Gromyko and Defense Minister Dmitri Ustinov - all now dead - for their secret decision to invade the Soviet Union's southern neighbor.
Andropov was head of the KGB secret service and Gromyko was foreign minister at the time of the Afghan invasion, after which both men rose to their higher posts.
Before the vote to condemn the invasion, lawmakers rose and observed a minute of silence in honor of the Soviet soldiers who died during the Kremlin's more than nine-year entanglement.
The government said 14,143 soldiers perished in the Soviet involvement, which ended in February after a nine-month withdrawal under a U.N. settlement. The figure was higher than Moscow's previous official death toll of 13,310.
The lawmakers' vote codified the Oct. 23 declaration by Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnadze, who called the Afghan invasion a mistake.