MOSCOW — Although some officials, including Boris N. Yeltsin, stayed away from the meeting, President Mikhail S. Gorbachev moved a step closer Friday to enacting his blueprint for a decentralized, market-oriented Soviet Union by presenting the plans to top advisory bodies for criticism and fine-tuning.
"We have to work out, in the nearest future, the shape of the new union treaty that will guarantee the sovereignty of the republics," Gorbachev said. "However, we should not break with the common economic organism, but on the contrary, jointly create and strengthen a nationwide market."
With renewed ethnic violence in outlying districts serving as a reminder of the extent of discontent with the Soviet political system and the flagging economy, the Presidential Council and the Council of the Federation were told by Gorbachev that the country needs a new balance of power between the center and the 15 constituent Soviet republics, with unprecedented rights for local authorities.
Attendance at the Kremlin meeting of the two advisory councils, created this year as part of a Gorbachev-sponsored reinforcement of the Soviet executive branch, reflected the shrinking limits of the Moscow government's authority.
Vytautas Landsbergis of Lithuania, whose homeland declared independence in March but agreed to hold that declaration in abeyance in exchange for talks with Moscow, did not attend. Like the presidents of all the Soviet republics, Landsbergis is automatically a member of the Council of the Federation.
Attending in Landsbergis' stead was Lithuanian Prime Minister Kazimiera Prunskiene. She said after the meeting that talks her government hopes will lead to Kremlin consent for Lithuania's independence could open as early as next week.
Yeltsin, president of the Russian Federation, was vacationing in Latvia on the Baltic coast. He sent the Russian prime minister, Ivan S. Silyaev, to the meeting, according to Mikhail N. Poltoranin, the Russian Federation's minister for press affairs.
It was another gesture by Yeltsin intended to highlight his independence from the Kremlin leadership. In May, Yeltsin, who quit the Communist Party last week, led the Russian Congress of People's Deputies in declaring Russian sovereignty. He has asserted control of Russia's economy and is planning a separate recovery plan for the country's biggest and most populous republic.
The Soviet leadership's economic reform plan for a "controlled market" provoked genuine panic earlier in the summer when the people were told that it would cause an average increase of 100% in food prices. The alarmed national legislature promptly put off consideration of higher prices until September.
"What is most important today is to protect the poorly supplied strata of the population from a worsening of their situation by developing a reliable system of social guarantees," a participant at Friday's meeting was quoted as saying by Tass, the official news agency.
Nikolai I. Ryzhkov, the Soviet prime minister, told the councils it was urgent that Gorbachev issue a number of presidential decrees to create the necessary legal conditions for a market economy.
In a move evidently aimed at soothing widespread concerns, Ryzhkov said he will present a plan to the legislature in September that will include a system of social security to protect citizens' living standards from inflation and ensure their right to a job.
Later, in a special television appearance, Ryzhkov announced wage increases effective Jan. 1 for about 7 million teachers and health and cultural workers. He noted that "we need to socially defend these people."
Rafik N. Nishanov, chairman of the Council of Nationalities, one of the chambers of the bicameral Supreme Soviet, said the leadership plans to create a "union of sovereign states" to make relations between Moscow and the republics more democratic after decades of central rule.
The independent news agency Interfax said the Supreme Soviet would be convened in August, a month earlier than scheduled, to discuss the treaty.
Details of the proposed treaty have not been made public, but Vadim V. Bakatin, the interior minister and a member of the Presidential Council, told reporters: "We have to admit the primary right of the republics to sovereignty, to the establishment of their statehood."