Former Soviet Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnadze said in an interview broadcast Thursday that a "shadow power," and not President Mikhail Gorbachev, decided to crack down on unrest.
Shevardnadze, a close friend of Gorbachev, stunned the West when he abruptly resigned in December, warning in a speech delivered on the Palace of Congresses that "dictatorship is coming" to the Soviet Union.Appearing on the ABC News show "Primetime Live", Shevardnadze said it was not Gorbachev who was behind the crackdowns against uprisings in the Baltics or putting the KGB secret police and military patrols on the streets to keep order.
"The president does not always make all the decisions," Shevardnadze said. "And that means there is some kind of shadow power here in the Soviet Union, a shadow authority, and we must now begin to investigate that."
The former foreign minister is setting up a Western-style think tank in Moscow.
"Sometimes decisions are made without any authority from the president," he said. "It's bad, very bad."
But Shevardnadze said it would be wrong for Gorbachev to resign to protest against the hard-line Soviets who appear to have gained a degree of control.
"That would be the worst option," Shevardnadze said.
He denied reports that circulated at the time he resigned that he was leaving because he knew that the military planned to crack down hard on dissent in the Baltics.
"You know that if I'd known that force was going to be used in the Baltics, I would have said so," he said. "I would have warned the people in a public statement."
Meanwhile, Gorbachev accused political enemies in the Russian Federation Thursday of trying to sabotage the economy by encouraging coal miners to strike.
"This behavior is suicidal and the height of irresponsibility," an angry Gorbachev said at a session of the legislature.