President Mikhail S. Gorbachev today ordered outlawed armed groups to turn in their weapons and disband within 15 days and threatened to use military force if they do not comply, Tass news agency said.
It said the decree was issued in response to armed groups being formed in several regions of the country beset by ethnic violence.
"Armed units, not envisaged under Soviet legislation, are illegal and (are) to be disbanded within 15 days," the decree said.
"Weapons, ammunition, explosive substances, military hardware and other types of munitions are to be surrendered to representatives of the U.S.S.R. Interior Ministry within the same period of time."
Gorbachev's decree authorized local police, officials of the republics, the Interior Ministry and the KGB to take action to ensure that all weapons are confiscated from the outlaw groups within 15 days.
If the armed groups do not comply with the order, "The Soviet Interior Ministry has the right to use Interior troops, and units of the Soviet Defense Ministry may become involved in some operations," Tass said.
Tass did not specify which regions the presidential decree referred to, but it reported last week that illegal groups were on rampages in the republics of Armenia and Kirghizia.
Armed mobs attacked government installations and seized weapons from police stations in Armenia, Tass said last week. At least 200 people have died in two years of ethnic fighting in Armenia against residents of the neighboring republic of Azerbaijan.
In Kirghizia, where another 212 people have died in ethnic unrest since June 4, 26 firearms were confiscated last week by police and 180 people were detained, Tass said.
Gorbachev's decree was aimed at outlaw groups that threaten people's lives, seize arms, assault soldiers and police, and attack military and civilian facilities, Tass said.