Workers in the western republic of Byelorussia demanding the dissolution of the republic's Communist Party joined forces with striking coal miners Tuesday by walking off the job, and they left open the question of how long the action would last.
President Mikhail Gorbachev, who himself faces a tough grilling by the Communist Party he heads at a plenum of its hierarchy Wednesday, asked leaders of the Soviet republics to back his plan for a moratorium on strikes and rallies.Meanwhile, the Soviet legislature Tuesday endorsed Gorbachev's program to pull the country out of its economic crisis through sharp budget cuts, privatization and other steps.
Gorbachev proposed the package of "anti-crisis" measures earlier this month, saying that the nation was heading toward "economic collapse."
Among the recommended measures is a sharp reduction in government spending to try to cut the budget deficit, which is expected to balloon from about 60 billion rubles ($106 billion at the official exchange rate) last year to more than 130 billion rubles ($230 billion) this year. The program does not include a specific budget-deficit target.
Gorbachev also proposed to begin selling off some small state enterprises. Under his plan, two-thirds of all small businesses in the service and consumer sectors would be in private hands by the end of 1992.
Ignoring the proposed ban on political strikes and rallies, the workers in the Byelorussian capital of Minsk marched in columns to the city's central Lenin Square for a rally, the Soviet media said.
Similar marches unfolded in the cities of Lida, Orsh, Solingorsk and Zhodino, the independent Interfax News Agency said of the walkout, which turned from a demand for increased wages into a renunciation of the Communist Party.
Gennady Bykov, co-chairman of the Minsk strike committee, said employees of 42 enterprises in the capital participated in the walkout and that the action would continue Wednesday.