The populist politician and president of the Russian parliament, Boris Yeltsin, has resigned from the Soviet Communist Party.

The resignation has also led to a declaration from the small but influential radical reform group Democratic Platform that they would also break away.

The split leaves Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev with a party in tatters.

It was thought that Mr Gorbachev had appeased the reformers by ensuring the defeat of hardline conservative Yegor Ligachev in the race for the deputy leadership yesterday.

His favoured candidate, the pro-reform Vladimir Ivashko, was elected instead.

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