The passing of the oldest member of the Soviet politburo, Arvid Pelshe, leaves open the chair of the Communist Party's potentially powerful Control Committee.
A regular session of the party's full Central Committee is expected in June, Monitor correspondent Ned Temko reports. Theoretically, the Control Committee post could be filled then and, if the Kremlin so chooses, Mr. Pelshe's politburo spot also.
Mr. Pelshe was not thought to be a major force in the day-to-day charting of party or state policy. But he was symbolically important to the Kremlin as the only politburo member to have met Soviet founder Vladimir Lenin.
In recent years, the Party Control Committee seemed to have focused largely on reviewing appeals against disciplinary moves by lower party bodies.But the group's statutory role also includes taking ''action against communists who violate . . . party or state discipline'' - an area given increased public emphasis since Yuri Andropov became party leader late last year.
Some Western diplomats here suspect Mr. Andropov will seek to move the Control Committee toward a more energetic use of this prerogative.
Mr. Pelshe's office declined to comment on when a new chief of the Control Committee might be named, and on whether Mr. Pelshe's politburo spot would be filled in the near future. The party's rules do not designate a fixed size for the politburo, which now has 11 members.