Even after witnessing KGB agents beat peaceful Soviet protesters, Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, says Mikhail Gorbachev likely will survive his current political threats.
"Our hope is he will. And there are a variety of ways our country could put pressure to help Gorbachev move back to the center and be a principal pursuer of reform rather than repression," Hatch said.His comments came after he returned from a two-week trip to the Soviet Union, Latvia, Poland, Czechoslovakia and Hungary.
Hatch said Gorbachev has made too many concessions to Soviet hard-liners to stay in power. But reformers Hatch interviewed all seemed to believe Gorbachev is still their best hope for democratic reform - if he can be coaxed back more toward the middle.
One of them was former Soviet Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnadze. He told Hatch "that the right amount of pressure brought by our country and others would be very beneficial to Gorbachev, because he needs the pressure so he can say to the hard-liners, `Look, I've got to move a little bit more toward reform.' "
Hatch witnessed firsthand the results of some of the concessions Gorbachev has made to hard-liners that led to beatings of protesters beneath Hatch's hotel window a few blocks from Red Square.
"We were able to walk out on the ledge of the hotel and observe everything that was going on. There were no riots. People were very peacefully assembling, peacefully protesting.
"But then all the sudden, the KGB - I suppose they were KGB - started to pick up some of the leaders from the protest. They took them into police trucks and they just hammered them. They were just beating them and slamming them. It was just unbelievable," Hatch said.