Lithuanians Place Freeze on Freedom : Move Could Bring End to Kremlin’s Economic Blockade
The Lithuanian Parliament agreed today to put a 100-day freeze on its declaration of independence in return for an end to the Kremlin’s economic blockade and the start of negotiations on secession.
The move could end the breakaway Baltic republic’s 3 1/2-month-old standoff with Moscow over its drive toward independence.
If the agreement is approved by Moscow, it would resolve one of the most contentious regional disputes facing President Mikhail S. Gorbachev as he prepares for a key national Communist Party congress Monday.
The resolution accepting a proposed compromise was approved by a vote of 69 to 35, with two abstentions.
It called for the 100-day moratorium to begin simultaneously with the start of negotiations with the Soviet government.
The deal was worked out at two meetings between Gorbachev and Lithuanian President Vytautas Landsbergis this week, according to Lithuanian officials.
But there was no immediate comment from Soviet authorities on whether the Lithuanian vote would be sufficient to end the embargo and start talks.
It also was not clear when those negotiations could begin, because Gorbachev was expected to be tied up with the national party congress, where his reform effort is expected to be attacked by hard-liners.
“We had hoped that it would end today,” Prime Minister Kazimiera Prunskiene, who also had backed the compromise, said of the embargo.
The move by the Parliament came hours after Landsbergis reversed his position and endorsed the compromise plan on the March 11 declaration.