Representative Benjamin L. Cardin, D-Md.-3rd, returned home early yesterday from a congressional tour of the Baltic republics of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, convinced they will be "fully independent."
"I just hope and pray it will be without violence," he said.
Mr. Cardin was part of a 14-member congressional delegation headed by Representative Steny H. Hoyer, D-Md.-5th, that left for the republics a week ago -- just hours after Lithuanian citizens, in a non-binding popular vote, backed a declaration of independence by a 13-to-1 margin. Similar elections are scheduled March 3 in Latvia and Estonia.
Mr. Cardin, whose grandparents were from Lithuania, expressed concern at what he described as the Soviet military's "intimidation" in the republics, where troops began what were called "training exercises" as the election was held. A month ago, 14 people were killed when Soviet troops attacked demonstrators at Lithuanian broadcast facilities.