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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Party Man Attacks Party Gorbachev Aide Says Yeltsin Was Right To Ban It

Adding a twist to the Constitutional Court's trial of the former Communist Party, a close aide to Mikhail Gorbachev and former member of the party elite said Monday that President Boris Yeltsin had been right to ban it.

Alexander Yakovlev, a former Politburo member who is known as an architect of Gorbachev's glasnost, sharply criticized the party's top echelons for failing to heed the call for reform. He told the court that the party had been based on a "deep belief in the power of violence".

"It cannot exist without the KGB, labor camps and asylums", he said. "It cannot exist without merging the party and state apparatus".

A member of the Politburo from 1985-90, Yakovlev was the latest of a . group of top party leaders whom Russia's highest court has called on for testimony to help it rule on the constitutionality of Yeltsin's decrees banning the Communist Party's activities after the August 1991 coup. The court extended its schedule on Friday and Monday to accommodate Yakovlev, who left Monday afternoon for Paris to lecture at the Sorbonne.

Also on Monday, the court hinted that it would be willing similarly to accommodate Gorbachev, who is hoping to attend a state funeral Saturday in Germany for Willy Brandt, the former chancellor.

It said in a statement that Gorbachev still had time to perform his "civic duty" and testify at the trial before leaving for the funeral.

But Gorbachev repeated in an interview with the radio station Moscow Echo that he would not testify.

"I am against those who use the Constitutional Court for political drama", Gorbachev said in the interview, which was also broadcast in Italy.

He also said, however, that he was in close contact with court chairman

Valery Zorkin and that he was ready to appear at the court at any time, as long as it was not to testify at the trial.

Because of his refusal to testify, Gorbachev has been denied permission to leave the country and has already had to cancel one trip abroad. He was also planning a trip to Italy Oct. 14.

The sanction imposed on Gorbachev has already been protested by the French, Italian and Portuguese governments.

In Bonn on Monday, Dieter Vogel, the German government spokesman, said that Chancellor Helmut Kohl had not yet intervened with Yeltsin to allow Gorbachev to attend the funeral, but he did not rule out that some action might be taken this week,

according to The Associated Press.

At the court, Sergei Shakhrai, a lawyer representing Yeltsin in the case, said that enough evidence had been gathered about the party and that Gorbachev's testimony might not be needed.

"Witnesse's testimony and documents that have been submitted have already fully disclosed the Communist Party's activities", Shakhrai told Itar-Tass.

During questioning on Monday, Yakovlev said that growing conservatism among the party elite had made reform impossible in Communism's final years.

"There were no profound changes in the party or its work", he said. "It just grew more conservative, more fierce, and more determined to stay in power.

Yakovlev also served as the head of the Central Committee's ideology, propaganda and international departments. He was expelled from the party shortly before the August 1991 coup. He is now a vice president of the Gorbachev Foundation, the former Soviet president's research institute.

Yakovlev said that while he and Gorbachev had shared a vision of reform, they had often differed in their approaches. Yakovlev, for example, tried to dissuade Gorbachev from flooding Moscow with tanks before a Congress of Russian People's Deputies in March 1991. But Gorbachev, insisting that democratic groups were planning to sow unrest, only stepped up his order for troops when Yakovlev warned him that the military presence could lead to violence.