Soviet troops have taken over Latvia's central publishing house, sparking a demonstration by thousands of people in the capital of Riga, reports said.
In Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania, soldiers Wednesday restricted access to the headquarters of the divided Lithuanian Communist Party's Central Committee and refused to allow the republic's interior minister to enter the building.Amid the signs of increased tension, the foreign ministers of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania appealed to the Soviet government to refrain from using military force against the three Baltic republics, all of which declared independence last year.
"The presence of Soviet troops on our territory is a political and legal issue that should be resolved by means of talks between the Soviet Union and the Baltic republics on a state level," the appeal said.
About 20,000 people gathered outside the Latvian Communist Party's Central Committee headquarters in Riga to protest the takeover of the central publishing house.
Journalists in the building held an emergency meeting and issued a statement saying they would begin a strike Thursday.
The publishing house has become the focus of a power struggle between the Communists and the nationalist-controlled Latvian government, which has tried to claim party property since its May 4 declaration of independence.