The Lithuanian parliament on Friday dropped plans to duplicate Estonia's challenge to Moscow's authority after a high official said Estonia was violating the Soviet Constitution, official media reported.
The Estonian parliament on Wednesday passed a declaration of sovereignty and a constitutional amendment giving its own parliament the right to veto Soviet laws.Many people watching the televised session of the Lithuanian parliament Friday believed the Lithuanian Communist Party chief, Algirdas Brazauskas, said in his speech that Moscow had ordered Estonia's parliament to rescind its actions, said Vitaltas Kvetkauskas of Lithuanian TV in a telephone interview.
But another official, Vitautas Astrauskas, appeared on television later to say these people had misunderstood the speech, Kvetkauskas continued. He declined to speculate whether the deputies also misunderstood the speech given by Brazauskas, a reformer appointed a month ago to replace a member of the Communist Party old guard.
"People were scandalized!" when parliament dropped the sovereignty idea without a vote, said one activist who had stood on the square outside all day listening to the live radio broadcast of the parliament meeting.
The man was among those who cheered earlier in the day, when parliament voted to make Lithuanian the official language and the flag of independent Lithuania the official flag of the Soviet Lithuanian republic.
"The people trusted them, and then they didn't even vote!" said the activist, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
He said Brazauskas returned from Moscow the night before the meeting and told deputies there was no reason to confront Moscow when Estonia already had lost the battle over sovereignty.
The Soviet Presidium said Thursday that Estonia's claim of veto power over Soviet laws conflicted with the Soviet Constitution and that the issue would be discussed with Estonian leaders at the next meeting of the Presidium. No date was given.
The three Baltic republics of Lithuania, Estonia and Latvia were independent after the 1917 Bolshevik revolution until 1940. They then were absorbed by the Soviet Union under a secret agreement between dictators Josef Stalin of the Soviet Union and Adolf Hitler of Nazi Germany that divided Eastern Europe into spheres of influence.
The three republics have been showing signs of resurgent nationalism, using President Mikhail S. Gorbachev's reforms to push for greater autonomy.
Estonia's President Arnold Ruutel and Premier Indrek Toome were in Moscow Thursday but said they were attending a long-planned meeting on economics.
After Brazauskas' speech, the Lithuanian parliament voted unanimously to create a commission to rewrite the entire Lithuanian Constitution and named Brazauskas as its chairman, according to Lithuanian journalists and activists.