Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev returned home to Moscow last month after the summit to face a failing Soviet economy and increasing nationalistic unrest in the 15 Soviet republics.
Gorbachev moved to hold together a fast-splintering Soviet Republic by proposing drastic restructuring measures which would allow the 15 republics to agree on a new, looser federation of sovereign states.
The redefinition of the Soviet federation of republics could effectively ease unrest for the three Baltic State’s demands for independence and quell separatist demands now occurring all across the Soviet Union.
Rival party leader Boris Yeltsin, leading the Russian republic’s parliament toward its own restructuring plan, declared that the Russian republic’s laws supersede the national laws of the Soviet Union. This measure would drastically reduce Gorbachev’s authority in the Russian republic which includes 52 percent of the Soviet Union’s population and 75 percent of its land mass.
The presidents of Lithuania and Latvia, Vytautas Landsbergis and Anatoly Gorbunov, met with Gorbachev and later indicated that the Soviet president had offered their republics a deal on independence.
Estonian President Arnold Ruutel said on national Estonian radio that Gorbachev had agreed to talks and had recognized the need for independence.
Gorbachev told the Supreme Soviet legislature: “If Lithuania will suspend the implementation of this act of independence, we may start to talk. That means suspend its implementation at least for the duration of the talks.”
Gorbachev had earlier ordered an embargo of natural gas, oil and other supplies to Lithuania when the country reiterated its declaration of independence and denounced the Soviet Union’s forceful annexation of the Baltic States during Josef Stalin’s “reign of terror” in which millions of ethnic people were deported to labor camps and later died under cruel conditions.