The European Parliament blocked $1 billion in food aid to the Soviet Union Tuesday in a sharp reprimand of the Kremlin for its crackdown in the Baltics.
A $500 million technical aid program for the Soviet Union may also be reconsidered, said the parliament's budget committee chairman, Alain Lamassoure of France.The assembly will reconsider the food aid in late February but will only release it if Moscow relaxes its repression of pro-independence movements in Lithuania and Latvia.
"The repression in the Baltics has made impossible an immediate decision by the parliament," he said.
The EC's 518-seat Parliament is largely an advisory body, but it has final authority over some EC spending, including most aid for areas outside the trade bloc.
On Jan. 13, Soviet troops stormed a broadcasting center in the Lithuanian capital, Vilnius, killing 14 pro-independence demonstrators and wounding more than 200. A week later, Soviet commandos killed five people and injured 10 during an assault on the police headquarters in the Latvian capital, Riga.
The EC's executive committee on Monday canceled an upcoming meeting of European and Soviet experts to expand trade links.
Luxembourg Foreign Minister Jacques Poos, whose country holds the EC's rotating presidency, was strongly critical of the Soviet crackdown during the meeting but urged the European Parliament to approve the food aid as planned.
The aid includes $300 million in emergency food shipments and $650 million in credits for food purchases.