Soviet soldiers shot and wounded a Lithuanian draft dodger trying to flee a military checkpoint on a highway between the Baltic republic's two largest cities Tuesday, the Lithuanian Interior Ministry said.
The official Soviet news agency Tass said that Jonas Tautkus, 20, was admitted to a hospital in the Lithuanian capital of Vilnius at 2:15 a.m. and underwent emergency surgery for a head wound."He was said to have been shot at a military checkpoint on the Vilnius-Kaunas highway while fleeing Soviet troops," Tass said.
Col. Grigory Belous, commander of the Soviet military garrison in Vilnius, told Tass that Tautkus "was intoxicated, a conflict happened, he tried to run away" and "weapons were used."
The shooting occurred three weeks after a Soviet Defense Ministry decree ordered a crackdown on draft evaders in Lithuania, the fellow Baltic republics of Estonia and Latvia and the Transcaucasian states of Armenia and Georgia.
Tensions are high in the northern Baltic region, where Soviet soldiers stormed Lithuania's television center Jan. 13, killing 14 people, and launched a Jan. 20 assault on the Latvian Interior Ministry in which four people died.
The Vilnius government accused Soviet soldiers Monday of continuing a campaign of harassment in fresh attacks against two customs points set up by Lithuania.
Lithuanian President Vytautas Landsbergis said Moscow is trying to establish a military dictatorship in the Baltic region.
Three Soviet deputies arrived in the Latvian capital of Riga to arrange a meeting among nationalist officials who have controlled the local government since last May, Communist representatives and activists from other political groups.
Latvian Communist Party chief Alfreds Rubiks said the republic's leaders had accepted the creation of a "commission on public accord" that would allow Communists to share power despite their defeat in parliamentary elections last year.