Over the objections of the regional army commander, political leaders ordered troops to break up a pro-independence rally in Soviet Georgia, Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnadze was quoted as saying.
At least 19 people were killed in the April 9 clash in the Georgian capital, Tbilisi.In the Baltic republic of Lithuania, thousands rallied Sunday to mourn the victims. And at a rally in Moscow, human rights activist Andrei D. Sakharov led about 500 people in a minute of silence for the dead.
In a report Sunday, Pravda quoted Shevardnadze as saying the curfew in the southern republic could be lifted Monday.
Tbilisi has generally been quiet, though tense, since the deaths. An 11 p.m.-to-6 a.m. curfew imposed after the demonstrations has been cut back to midnight to 5 a.m., local activist Sergei Dandurov said by telephone.
During the unrest, Shevardnadze said, the army "marched and was stationed in certain places under orders given by the leadership of the republic," the Communist Party newspaper Pravda reported.
Shevardnadze said the decision to use troops to quell the protests was opposed by Col. Gen. I.N. Rodionov, commander of a region that includes Georgia, Armenia, and Azerbaijan.
"The commander said the function the troops were ordered to perform was not the responsibility of the army," Pravda quoted Shevardnadze as saying in a speech Friday to the Georgian Communist Party's Central Committee.
On Friday, the republic's party chief resigned after accepting responsibility for the April 9 clash in a main square of Tbilisi, and the republic's premier was also fired as a result.
Shevardnadze was sent to the region to help restore order. He is a native Georgian and former chief of the republic's Communist Party.
State-run Radio Moscow said 20 people died and more than 150 were injured in the April 9 clash. The official Georgian news agency Gruzinform said the death toll remained at 19.