The Soviet parliament sought to stop the collapse of central authority by passing legislation Wednesday that says its laws supersede any conflicting measures in the 15 Soviet republics. The sponsors of the bill said it is designed to end the "war of laws" between the national and republic governments, some of which are seeking to break away from Moscow. The two largest Soviet republics, Russia and the Ukraine, quickly passed their own laws overruling the legislation. The Baltic republic of Latvia, which declared independence this year, passed a law saying state-owned property belongs to the republic. The Soviet labor union organization, which for 70 years maintained the Communist Party's grip on the proletariat, voted to dissolve itself because, it acknowledged, it was badly out of touch with the country's workers and unable to cope with the economic crisis.
Ivan Frolov, the traditionalist editor of the Communist Party newspaper Pravda, facing a hostile staff and slumping circulation, said he offered to resign but was told by Mikhail Gorbachev and the Politburo to stay on.
The Soviet Union staged an underground nuclear test in the area of the Arctic archipelago of Novaya Zemlya, Tass said. The blast had a yield of between 20 and 150 kilotons. Tass said "it was set off to confirm the reliability and increase the safety of nuclear weapons." It was the first Soviet test since October 1989.
The Soviet military chief of staff, saying the Warsaw Pact "threatens no one in the East or West," called for the dissolution of NATO as a military organization. Gen. Mikhail A. Moiseyev said during a visit to Belgium, "Military organizations must cease to exist."
_ Information from Reuters and the AP was used in this report.