Russian Federation President Boris Yeltsin accused Mikhail Gorbachev Monday of seeking to topple the legally elected governments in the Baltic republics.
Yeltsin opened a session of his Russian republic's Parliament with a call for dialogue with Gorbachev, saying "the reactionary turn has not yet reached a point of no return."In a forceful speech, Yeltsin charged that Gorbachev himself had brought on the political crisis that reached a peak when soldiers killed 14 Lithuanians eight days ago in an assault on the television and radio center in Vilnius.
The violence spread Sunday to Latvia where special forces troops killed five people in a gun battle while taking that republic's Interior Ministry.
The third Baltic republic, Estonia, also was affected early Monday when two explosions of undetermined orgins damaged a building at the Tallinn shipyards and a center for worker collectives. No injuries were reported.
Similar mysterious explosions in Riga in early January preceded the army actions in Latvia.
Yeltsin explained that Moscow conducted two contradictory policies: one promised reforms for a state based on the rule of law, the other aimed at preserving the old communist system and keeping the Soviet Union intact.
"All that was pursued by one leader," Yeltsin said.
Yeltsin lashed out at the shadowy National Salvation Committees formed in the three Baltic republics as instruments used to stifle democracy.
"The toppling of the constitutional bodies, which the so-called Salvation Committees seek to replace, has been virtually launched under the guise of rectifying some errors of young democracies - the parliaments of the Baltic republics," Yeltsin said.
The nationalist-controlled parliaments of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania emerged last year in largely free elections that were encouraged by Gorbachev as part of his political reform.