THE new Supreme Soviet has the same name as its predecessor. But it differs in one key respect: The new body has full legislative powers. Chosen from the ranks of the elected 2,250-member People's Congress of Deputies, the Soviet (parliament) will stay in session for two periods of three to four months a year. The previous, largely ceremonial Supreme Soviet met only for two six-day sessions a year, effectively rubber-stamping Communist Party decisions.
Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev has suggested that he plans to transfer many of the party's day-to-day powers to the new legislature, and hopes to use it to circumvent bureaucratic opposition and win popular support for his reform policies.
Supreme Soviet commissions will be made up of members of the standing body and the full Congress. The commissions will oversee the budget, defense, and other key areas.