Moscow's police force transferred Liberal city council stripped of control.

March 27, 1991|By Los Angeles Times

MOSCOW -- Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev has stripped Moscow's liberal city government of control of the capital's police force, and radicals declared they would proceed with a protest rally despite a new ban on demonstrations.

Gorbachev acted yesterday, a day after his Cabinet prohibited all political meetings and protests in the capital until April 15 to prevent the rally planned tomorrow in support of Gorbachev's rival, Russian President Boris Yeltsin, whom conservatives are trying to oust.

But Democratic Russia, a coalition of liberal and radical parties, declared its intention to hold the demonstration, planned for a square just outside the Kremlin, and announced that the Moscow City Council would back them.

Moscow Mayor Gavriil Popov, a radical economist who took over City Hall last year, also criticized the ban on rallies.

"Despite the difficult time Moscow is going through," Popov said in a statement, "the situation in the capital is not so serious as to demand such extraordinary measures as to deprive Muscovites of the basic human rights guaranteed in the Soviet constitution."

Gorbachev, in strengthening the central government's control of the Soviet capital, appeared to be preparing for a showdown with Yeltsin's supporters in their continuing struggle over the course of U.S.S.R. political and economic reforms.

Under Gorbachev's decree, Moscow's police will become a new department of the Soviet Interior Ministry, no longer be subordinate to the liberal city and regional councils.

Meanwhile, Soviet lawmakers yesterday ordered 300,000 striking coal miners to suspend their 3 1/2 -week work stoppage for two months and return to work while their grievances are discussed.

Reacting with anger to the legislative action, miners declared their determination to continue their protest until their leaders, who were gathered in Moscow for an all-night strategy session, ordered them to return to work.

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