Estonian Challenge Due to His Reform Drive, Gorbachev Says

Associated Press

Soviet President Mikhail S. Gorbachev said Saturday that his reform policies are responsible for the surge of nationalism in Estonia, the Soviet Baltic republic that has challenged Moscow’s authority.

But the Soviet leader, on the second day of a three-day visit, said not all points raised in debates inspired by his attempts at social and economic restructuring, known as perestroika , are constructive.

“Some are purely emotional, and this has been causing some negative reactions,” Gorbachev said in his first public comments on Estonia’s challenge to the Kremlin.

“The country is thinking over what is happening,” Gorbachev said in response to a reporter’s question during a visit to a monument honoring the late Indian prime minister, Indira Gandhi.


“There is a lot of debate on how to approach the problem. I am sure things will settle down,” Gorbachev said. “What is happening in Estonia is perestroika.

The Parliament of Estonia on Wednesday passed a constitutional amendment asserting veto power over any new Soviet laws. It also declared sovereignty over all Estonian matters except those involving defense and foreign affairs.

Gorbachev said the problems in Estonia and the other two Baltic states, Latvia and Lithuania, will be dealt with as part of his program for social reform.

“We will find a solution to problems of concern to various republics,” Gorbachev said. “Many things concern our friends. For example, in placing various industries there have been some mistakes. There has been migration and some deterioration of environment.”


By “migration,” he meant an influx of ethnic Russians into the Baltic states that has angered the native population.

Gorbachev’s comments came after he had placed a wreath of red roses at a memorial to Gandhi on what would have been her 71st birthday.

Later, he accepted a peace award named in honor of Gandhi, who was assassinated in 1984. He also conferred privately with her son and successor, Rajiv Gandhi, and attended the closing ceremony of a yearlong Soviet cultural festival.

Gorbachev used his speech accepting the award to criticize the United States and Pakistan for their support of guerrillas fighting Soviet troops and the Soviet-backed government in Afghanistan.

“Pakistan and the United States find it hard to accept new approaches to international affairs,” he said during the speech that was broadcast live and translated into English on India’s state-run television.

He accused the two nations of creating obstacles for the Geneva accord that provided for the withdrawal of about 100,000 Soviet troops from Afghanistan by Feb. 15.

“Their actions appear to indicate that they would like us to rescind those accords, even though the grave consequences of that are obvious,” he said. “The danger inherent in it will soon make it comparable to a threat of nuclear holocaust or environmental catastrophe.”

Afghan Refugees Arrested


Police have arrested more than 200 Afghan refugees protesting Gorbachev’s visit to New Delhi, according to a prominent member of the refugee community of 7,000. Police confirmed that some Afghans had been detained but refused to give any figures.

Syed Mohammad Maiwand, chairman of the International Afghan Elders Assn. in New Delhi, said more than 150 Afghans were arrested Thursday night. Maiwand said 63 more people were detained during a demonstration outside a U.N. office Saturday.

Police have ordered all Afghans in the city to stay in their homes during Gorbachev’s visit.

During his speech, Gorbachev also spoke of the need for the Soviet Union, China and India to have good relations.

“We are pleased to see signs of improvement in Indo-Chinese relations. Our own relations with China are also evolving in an encouraging way,” he said.

Both India and the Soviet Union have long had strained relations with China, and India and China went to war in 1962 over a still-unresolved border dispute.