The beginning of the new political course is traditionally linked up with the name of M. Gorbatshev, who in May of 1985 became the General Secretary of the CPSU Central Committee. That very year N. Rizhkov was administered as the Chairman of the Soviet of Ministers.
Two noticeable stages can be accentuated in the "perestroika":
In the structure and machinery of functioning of central and local power bodies (Soviets) there was practically no changes. As always the USSR Supreme Soviet was formally the ultimate power body. Since 1985 through 1988 the place of the Chairman was occupied by A. Gromiko. In October, 1988 M. Gorbatshev was elected to be the Chairman, and A. Lukyanov - the First Deputy.
In province the power still belonged (de jure) to the Soviets of different levels, elected on non-alternative base. The Executive power was in the hands of Executive Committees of the Soviets (on the level of republic - to Soviets of Ministers). It became fashionable to talk about struggle with bureaucratism, about democratisation and glasnost (publicity, openness of information).
Real changes in the power structure began after 1988. On December 1, 1988 the 12-th extraordinary, off-the-schedule USSR Supreme Soviet session issued the law "About changes and additions to the USSR Constitution". The main burden of the law was a change in election system in the country and principles of federal bodies functioning.
Since 1989 the election structure was changed. First of all the obligatory "indestructive bloc of communists and the non-party" was abated. A characteristic feature of the union was that there was one candidate for a place. The elections became alternative and competitive. But quite naturally they exposed full unreadiness of the people and the country for that change in election principles.
As the result of elections on the First Congress of the people's Deputies two main blocs appeared, which remained practically unchanged on the following Congresses: the bloc of Communists and that of Democrats. Bloc of Communists and their supporters had stable majority on People's Deputies' Congresses.
On the First Congress of People's Deputies (May-June of 1989) M. Gorbatshev was elected as the Chairman of the USSR Supreme Soviet. A. Lukyanov was elected to be his deputy. The Congress considered the main directions of internal and foreign policy, a programme of the forthcoming activity of the government. The Second Congress of People's Deputies was held on December 12-24, 1989. The Congress passed a number of regulations concerning functioning of the Supreme Soviet, the Soviet of Ministers were elected and validated, as well as members of different comissions and committees.
According to the rules of procedure, confirmed on the First Congress of People's Deputies, the Supreme Soviet was to be called yearly by the Chairman of the Supreme Soviet for two regular sessions of 3-4 months. The First Supreme Soviet Session of 1989 assembling was held on June 7 - August 4 of 1989. Then The Supreme Soviet worked practically incessantly, but for short holidays. In intervals between the Supreme Soviet Sessions Presidium of the Supreme Soviet and constant commissions of various committees and chambers worked.
Activity of the so-called "Inter-regional deputy group" was the most noticeable and significant. The group united the reformatory wing of the CPSU and liberal intelligeñtuals. This activity in fact came to naught in late August - early September of 1991. Under the vox populi pressing deputies both in the centre and in republics declared about their dismissal and liquidity of the Supreme Soviet in the current membership (as it was elected in 1989). The situation in Supreme Soviets in the Russia Federation and other republics, as well as in local province Soviets, was different. In 1990 in a number of Supreme Soviets of union and autonomous republics being in opposition fo the CPSU, including nationalistic forces came to power. Most of the republics declared sovereignty, others claimed that they were going to become independent in the nearest future.
On the First Congress of People's Deputies (May-June 1990) Boris Eltsin was elected the Chairman, R. Khazbulatov - his first deputy, I. Silayev - the Chairman of the Soviet of Ministers. Constant commissions were elected, basically analogous to the union ones, ministers and chairmen of committees were ratified.
In 1990 May elections were held in autonomous republics and to local Soviets of all levels. As the result of nationalistic forces victory in autonomous republics, many of them announced about their sovereignty and converting into union republics. In Summer and in Autumn of 1990 status of Union Republic acquired Tatarstan, North Osetia, Dagestan, YakutiaYakutia and a number of others.
Anti-communistic coloration of the new Soviet administration showed itself most brightly in Moscow and Leningrad, where "Democratic Russia" movement came to power. In Moscow the place of the city Soviet Chairman was occupted by G. Popov, and in Leningrad - A. Sobchak.
The so-called "War of sovereignties" became characteristic feature of the new power - both on republican and local levels. Each Soviet urged to become the ultimate legal and executive body on its level, concentrating maximum credentials, ignoring in many cases subordination. By 1990-1991 functioning of federal elective organs showed, that the Soviet system in the traditional structure wasn't able to perform the tasks of executive and legislative power.
In the structure of executive power the most significant change was introducing the institute of presidency. On march 14, 1990 M. Gorbatshev became the first President of the USSR. Deliberative bodies were in President's hands: the Soviet of Federation and the President's Soviet. The President had a right to make bylaws and regulations with legislative force.
In 1991 presidential elections were held in most of the republics. On June 12, 1991 B. Eltsin was elected the President of Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic (RSFSR), and A. Rutskoy - vice-president. For the first time in Russia the leader of the country was elected in direct and secret vote.
In February, 1991 the USSR Soviet of Ministers was renamed into Ministry Cabinet. This was not just a renaming. When previously the Soviet of Ministers obeyed to the Supreme Soviet, after the renaming Ministry Cabinet obeyed President. The Cabinet phased down in August of 1991. Within 1989-1991 vacuum of power kept constantly growing, that vacuum revealed itself most obviously in Summer of 1991.