2 Soviet republics join exodus Uzbekistan, Kirgizia declare independence THE SOVIET CRISIS

September 01, 1991|By Kathy Lally | Kathy Lally,Moscow Bureau of The Sun The New York Times contributed to this article.

MOSCOW -- The republics of Uzbekistan and Kirgizia declared independence yesterday, joining what has become a daily exodus from the Soviet Union since a hard-line coup failed to oust President Mikhail S. Gorbachev.

The two republics, the first in Central Asia to secede, became the seventh and eighth to break away from the Kremlin since the coup. Two others, Lithuania and Georgia, declared their independence earlier, and Armenia has scheduled a referendum secession next month.

Uzbek President Islam Karimov said his republic's secession did not rule out the possibility of eventually signing some sort of treaty with the other 14 republics that formed the Soviet Union.

Mr. Karimov was quoted by the Interfax news agency as saying that a loose confederation of independent nations could yet emerge from the pieces of the Soviet Union that are falling everywhere.

Echoing leaders of other republics, he also warned that Russia, the largest republic, was trying to assert too much power. "This cannot have good consequences," he said. "The leadership of Uzbekistan will never agree to a secondary role."

Hours after Uzbekistan's announcement, the parliament of Kirgizia voted to declare that republic, on the Chinese border, an independent, democratic state. It also called direct presidential elections for Oct. 12, and its current leader, Askar Akayev, announced his candidacy.

Meanwhile, the president of Tadzhikistan, another Central Asian republic, became a victim of the coup yesterday, resigning after parliament voted no confidence in him.

Kakhar Makhkamov had come under attack for appearing indecisive during the takeover in Moscow.

"As even Communist deputies are demanding my resignation, I resign," Mr. Makhkamov said, according to the Postfactum news agency.

As political fires burned brightly in the republics, Soviet officials tried to dampen fears that rank-and-file Communists and former KGB informers would be persecuted.

Telman Gdlyan, a Soviet legislator, told the newspaper Trud that mass recriminations would only derail the move toward democracy.

"A sweeping persecution can only help the accomplices of the putschists," he said. "We must not lose our heads. We must not unleash a mass terror on a large number of people."

And the new KGB chief, Vadim A. Bakatin, said that while he would give up much of the KGB archives, he would never publish the lists of the thousands of informers who routinely filed reports on their work collectives or professional colleagues.

"We're a state that involved our citizens in a dirty game," Mr. Bakatin said. "We cannot throw those people to the mercy of the crowd. It's not the people who are at fault, it's the system. Society should demonstrate a certain sympathy."

But former Foreign Minister Alexander A. Bessmertnykh, fired by Mr. Gorbachev for not opposing the coup with sufficient vigor, said anti-Communist hysteria had already begun.

He said he was presumed guilty before trial. "This is a direct copy of what happened in 1937," he said, referring to the purges of Josef V. Stalin in which thousands of citizens were arrested and shot.

Soviet society kept up its dizzying pace of change yesterday. The newspaper Pravda reappeared after having been suspended by Russian President Boris N. Yeltsin immediately after the coup failed. He accused it of using public funds to spread party propaganda.

The paper, now run by its staff rather than the Communist Party, dropped the drawing of Vladimir I. Lenin that appeared at the top of the front page and the slogan, "Organ of the Central Committee of the Communist Party."

It ran a full page of pictures yesterday documenting Muscovites' resistance to the tanks that the hard-liners called into the city.

It also reprinted an editorial cartoon from The Sun drawn by Kevin Kallaugher. The cartoon shows a huge Boris Yeltsin bending over to shake the hand of a tiny Mikhail Gorbachev. Mr. Yeltsin is saying, "Welcome back to power, Mikhail" -- an astonishing image of the former general secretary of the party in the former party paper.

Elsewhere in the faltering Soviet Union, the Baltic republics were hoping to have their independence affirmed as early as tomorrow, when the Soviet Congress of People's Deputies meets in Moscow.

The 2,250-member congress is to select a new legislature from ** its own membership that is to enact laws during the transition to a still-uncertain future state.

Ivan D. Laptev, one of the standing legislature's presiding officers, predicted that the new Supreme Soviet would serve for two or three months at most.

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