USSR Congress of People's Deputies Opens

The USSR Congress of People's Deputies opened with the reading by Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbaev of a declaration addressed to the Congress by Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev and the heads of ten republics (the signatories of the "Nine-plus-One" agreement and Armenia). It stated that the signatories had agreed on the need to draw up and sign a treaty on a Union of sovereign states, in which each of them "can autonomously determine the form of its participation in the Union," and on the need to have all republics conclude as soon as possible an accord on an economic union. The declaration went on to outline new structures for the transitional period: a council composed of twenty USSR and republican deputies from each Union republic that should decide "general questions of principle"; a State Council consisting of the USSR president and the heads of the republics, who should take joint decisions on domestic and foreign-policy matters of common interest; and an Inter-republican Economic Committee with equal representation for all republics (Central Television, September 1).