National Geographic : 1990 Jan
PRECEDING PAGES Arena for art and politics, the Palace of Congresses includes a 6,000-seat theater that accommodates huge convocations of the Communist Party as well as serving as a second stage for the Bolshoi opera and ballet companies. Backdropped by an image of Lenin, the party's Central Committee hosts a "solemn session of the working people of Moscow." A lesson in just saying nyet was delivered to the Supreme Soviet on October 28, 1988, when Roald Sagdeev (above) and 12 other delegates became the first in recent memory to raise a hand against proposed legislation. Then director of the Space Research Institute, Sagdeev was voting against antidemonstration regu lationsproposed by the Communist Party. Other members of the Supreme Soviet, seen here (top right) earlier as they rub ber stamped legislation with their unani mous affirmative votes, were astonished. Later, in the halls of the Presidium building (far right), delegates discussed the implicationsof the revolutionary mood that was sweeping their institu tion. Though nominally responsiblefor enacting all of the nation's laws, the Soviet legislature had historicallybeen subservient to the will of the Communist Party, to which most delegates belong. Darling of the foreign media, maverick Boris Yeltsin (right) became a symbol of the emergent movement toward democ ratization when the party's attempts to strip him ofpower were resoundingly repudiated by Moscow voters in the 1989 general elections.