Soviet troops continue tightening in Lithuania

January 13, 1991

VILNIUS, U.S.S.R. (AP) -- Soviet troops yesterday seized two more buildings in Lithuania, and pro-independence activists stood guard outside parliament and the television station as tension with the Kremlin deepened.

The troops Friday seized four other buildings, including the national guard headquarters and the republic's main printing plant. Seven people were reported injured.

Soviet President Mikhail S. Gorbachev, who ordered paratroopers to enforce the draft in Lithuania and six other rebellious republics, has warned of direct Kremlin rule over the Baltic republic unless it backs off its independence declaration of last March.

Russia, the largest of the 15 Soviet republics, condemned the actionby Soviet forces and said it could cause wider civil unrest in the Soviet Union.

"This may cause an escalation of violence in this and other regions and unleash a widescale civil conflict," said a statement by the presidium of the Supreme Soviet of Russia.

In Moscow, officials Friday canceled a controversial television show and reduced telephone access for an independent news agency in moves criticized as a retreat from Gorbachev's glasnost reforms.

Hundreds of pro-independence Lithuanians formed a chain around the television station on Friday, and uniformed nationalist guards stood overnight inside the parliament with rifles, metal rods and gas masks.About 1,000 people spent the night in the square in front of the parliament building.

Pro-Kremlin protesters, who have called strikes at 23 factories in Lithuania and halted rail and airline service to the republic, told the parliament they would form a "National Rescue Committee" to take over the government unless lawmakers met Gorbachev's demand.

The parliament scoffed at the threat and said "any puppet pro-Soviet power in Lithuania and all its decisions would be completely illegal and not binding on anyone."

Early yesterday, Soviet troops seized one of the Lithuanian Police Academy's two buildings, and a villa occupied until last week by the national guard. The villa was converted Friday to a military support organization known as the Voluntary Society for Collaboration with the Army, Air Force and Navy.

Fifteen paratroopers broke into the villa, smashed the windows and furniture, and locked two remaining national guardsmen in the bathroom, said one of the guards, 19-year-old Dalius Tanavs.

Just before dawn, policemen in the police academy building not under Soviet control removed guns and ammunition so they could not be confiscated.

"The situation is not very good," said academy director Col. Vytautas Jakucevicius. "We are proud that Lithuania is fighting for its existence and its independence."

Clashes on Friday between Soviet troops and pro-independence groups in Lithuania left at least seven people injured, including a cameraman from Britain's Independent Television News beaten by paratroopers, according to witnesses and parliament spokeswoman Rita Dapkus.

Soviet troops firing into the air took over four buildings Friday -- an officers' school, a telephone exchange building, the main printing plant and the national guard headquarters, according to witnesses and news reports.

Seizure of the TV tower could end one of the republic's best ways of communicating with its residents. The government also runs a radio station, but has clandestine transmitters in case the main station is taken, said Leonas Ignatavicus, director of Lithuanian Radio and TV.

But not all was somber. A Lithuanian rock group, Raskat, organized an impromptu concert on the steps of the national library next to the parliament. Some young people danced together in a circle, while others waved a national flag. Two cafes on a nearby street were still serving at 3 a.m.

The takeovers came after Mr. Gorbachev on Monday ordered paratroopers to round up draft resisters and Red Army deserters in Armenia, Georgia, Moldavia, the Ukraine, and the three Baltic republics of Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania.

Thousands of draft age youths in the republics are refusing to turn up for their compulsory military service.

Military officials said they would postpone troop deployments in Estonia if republic leaders reinstituted the draft, the state news agency Tass said. Moldavian leaders said military officials agreed to let Moldavian youths serve within the republic if they answered draft notices, Tass.

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