Lithuania, Latvia threaten massive resistance to Moscow

January 23, 1991|By Tom Bowman | Tom Bowman,Washington Bureau of The Sun

WASHINGTON MARK MATTHEWS OF THE SUN'S WASHINGTON BUREAU CONTRIBUTED TO THIS ARTICLE. — WASHINGTON -- Lithuanian and Latvian leaders told Congress yesterday that a decision by Soviet President Mikhail S. Gorbachev to impose presidential rule in the strife-torn Baltic region would be met with civil disobedience and strikes that could swell into "uncontrollable resistance."

The Baltic leaders also said a February summit between Mr. Gorbachev and President Bush should not be held until Soviet troops leave the region, where they have killed at least 19 and wounded scores of others in assaults on government buildings aimed at quelling Baltic independence.

"The people of Latvia are at this moment united upon the barricades and will not retreat in the face of Communist aggression," Dainis Ivans, vice president of the Latvian Supreme Council, told the U.S. Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe -- the Helsinki Commission. "Under these circumstances, it is unthinkable that the planned summit . . . could take place."

The United States should recognize the fledgling Baltic democracies, impose sanctions against the Soviet Union to prevent further military action and send a high-level delegation to the Baltic states, said Mr. Ivans and Lithuanian Vice President Bronius Kuzmickas.

"Restoration of independence to Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia is possible only with the unequivocal support of Western countries," said Mr. Kuzmickas.

Representative Steny H. Hoyer, D-Md.-5th, co-chairman of the commission, asked the two leaders about the possibility that Mr. Gorbachev might impose presidential rule in the Baltics to suppress the independence movement. Both said it would be rejected by the two governments and met with "peaceful resistance."

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