The Moldavian Parliament declared a two-month state of emergency Friday in the southern Gagauz region that has declared independence and held secret nighttime elections to form its own legislature.
Deputies in Kishinev voted 245-9 to impose the special rule after a failed attempt at negotiations between Moldavian President Mircha Snegur and leaders of the Gagauzi, a Turkic people speaking Altaic languages who make up just 3.5 percent of Moldavia's population of 4.2 million.Large groups of majority Moldavians, infuriated by the breakaway attempt, massed at the border of the Gagauz region but were being held back by police reinforcements sent to the troubled area, the official Tass news agency said.
All roads into the area were blocked by the militia and cars, trucks and tractors brought by Gagauzi, Tass said.
"The situation in the republic is threatening to go out of control in view of the Moldavian population's strongly negative attitude to the actions of the Gagauzi and attempts by the Moldavian Popular Front to organize teams of volunteers to prevent elections," the news agency said Thursday.
The independent Interfax news service said:, "Moldavia is on the brink of civil war."
The Moldavian crisis is tied to what conservatives have called an "epidemic of sovereignty declarations" in which local regions are proclaiming independence from republics that themselves have acted with similar defiance toward the Soviet government.
The Gagauz minority had declared independence in their region and staged secret nighttime elections to form a legislature.
Gagauzi, who speak their own language, number just 173,000 in the entire Soviet Union, with 138,000 in Moldavia.
Miners OK untion
A nationwide congress of coal miners put aside divisions Friday and adopted a plan by radical miners to form the Soviet Union's first independent trade union.
The new Independent Trade Union of Miners has a potential membership of 2 million miners and could evolve into a powerful new political and economic force with power over energy supplies.