Soviet President Mikhail S. Gorbachev canceled a planned trip Friday to the troubled southwestern republic of Moldova, where he was hoping to ease ethnic tensions and dissuade separatists, the official Tass news agency said.
The one-day trip to Kishinev, announced only Thursday, would have been Gorbachev’s first visit to a Soviet republic outside the Russian Federation since a politically uncomfortable stop in Lithuania in January.
Gorbachev has been criticized at home for traveling around the world and concentrating on foreign affairs while the Soviet Union is facing an economic crisis, separatist movements and ethnic disputes in many of its 15 republics.
Gorbachev had planned to address the Moldovan Parliament in Kishinev and was to have met with representatives of the breakaway Russian-speaking Dniester and Turkic-speaking Gagauzi regions of the republic, formerly known as Moldavia.
“A new date for the trip will be announced later,” Tass said. No reason was given for the change of plans.
But Moldovan Prime Minister Mircha Snegur blamed the cancellation on the minority groups, which have set up their own separate parliaments, saying they had refused to travel to Kishinev to meet with Gorbachev.