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Shevardnadze Sees Threat of Another Coup

<i> Times Wire Services</i>

Soviet Foreign Minister Eduard A. Shevardnadze has issued a fresh warning that another right-wing coup could take place in the Soviet Union, according to a weekly newspaper.

Megapolis-Express, in an issue dated today, said Shevardnadze told a recent meeting of his Democratic Reform Movement that “the threat of a right-wing putsch is growing and becoming more and more real.”

Asked to elaborate, he told the paper: “Production is falling sharply, living conditions are worsening, prices are growing, hyper-inflation is on the way.

” . . . Against this background the discontent of the masses is growing. In such a situation, nostalgia for a ‘strong hand’ always arises in society. . . .”

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Shevardnadze returned last month to the job of foreign minister from which he had resigned in December, 1990. He said then that the Soviet Union faced the threat of dictatorship--a warning that appeared prophetic when Communist hard-liners staged an abortive coup last August.

Shevardnadze’s remarks were the latest in a string of recent coup warnings.

Soviet President Mikhail S. Gorbachev said in an interview this week that former Communists or members of the military-industrial establishment could be trying to organize a new coup.

And St. Petersburg Mayor Anatoly A. Sobchak told the Paris daily Le Figaro in an interview published Wednesday that a military coup was a real possibility. “And this time, if it happens, it will receive the support of the people,” he said.

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The outspoken mayor said August’s coup attempt failed because it was masterminded by unpopular Communists.

“But a military dictatorship whose declared goal is simply to restore order has a chance of success,” he said.


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