A beaten and humiliated Mikhail Gorbachev seems to have recognized that he can no longer continue as president of the Soviet Union.

As more and more Soviet republics turned toward the new Commonwealth of Independent States and away from his dream of a new reformed Soviet Union, Gorbachev wearily pronounced that "my life's work has been accomplished."Late Thursday night it appeared that it would be a matter of days or even hours before the 60-year-old leader would bow to the inevitable and announce his resignation after 61/2 years of historic change.

In a surprise two-hour press conference with Soviet journalists Thursday, Gorbachev was variously depressed and defiant about the future of his country. He saw no role for himself in the new commonwealth. A commentator on Soviet television Thursday night said the long press conference seemed to be Gorbachev's farewell.

His judgments were those of a man who is taking stock of his life: "I don't think I wasted my life. I think I've done everything I could. I think that in my place others would long ago have given up."

As always, he was defiant that there must be a Soviet Union, that a loose commonwealth without a state structure to hold everything together would be a disaster.

"They have begun carving the country up like a pie," he said. "I fear that we are priming a bomb that sooner or later will blow our society apart."

Earlier, the remains of the Soviet parliament acknowledged their own futility by refusing to debate the commonwealth issue, thus depriving Gorbachev of a platform to address the nation.

Gorbachev has been preoccupied for more than a year with the task of finding a new union treaty to bind the wayward republics together. The abortive coup in August was the signal for a collapse from which Gorbachev and the union project never recovered.

Distributed by Scripps Howard News Service