Unrest in the Republics
Continued signs of unrest in the Soviet republics: * MOLDOVA. Separatists continued to block trains in the eastern part of the Moldova republic to press demands for release of their arrested leader Igor Smirnov. A senior official from the Soviet Transport Ministry came to Kishinev, the Moldova capital, to meet with the republic’s president, Mircea Snegur, in an attempt to resolve the crisis in Trans-Dniester, which has halted train service at an important hub of rail traffic. Smirnov, arrested in Kiev last week on charges of plotting against the state and the republic, appealed from his prison here for an end to the blockade. Smirnov has declared himself president of the self-styled “Socialist Republic of Dniester.”
* GEORGIA. Thousands of protesters rallied against Georgia’s president, and opposition leaders charged that the republic is still governed by a dictatorship even though it is no longer Communist. The protesters marched on Government House for a fourth straight day after Georgian Interior Ministry troops opened fire to disperse anti-government demonstrators, wounding at least five. At the rally on Thursday, opposition parties demanded the resignation of Georgia’s president, Zviad Gamsakhurdia, and new legislative elections. There were no clashes.
* OSSETIA. New fighting flared in South Ossetia, with two people killed and eight wounded in the disputed region’s main town, Tskhinvali, in the past two days. The news agency Tass said that at least 20 people were taken hostage in the autonomous region, which lies within the republic of Georgia and is claimed by Georgian nationalists. Armed groups of Georgians from Tbilisi seized four truck drivers in one village and kidnaped seven in another one, then released them after beating them. Clashes between Ossetians and Georgians died down recently after leaving scores of people dead and forcing thousands of people to flee their villages at the beginning of summer.