Soviets toughen stance on planned protests. Kremlin links Latvian demonstrations with Western intelligence groups

By , Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor

The authorities in the Baltic state of Latvia are apparently hardening their line against nationalist demonstrations, Latvian sources say. Another demonstration, the third this year, is planned for Nov. 18. In preparation for next week's demonstration, the Latvian Communist Party leadership is intensifying its propaganda against 'emigr'e organizations, and is organizing auxiliary police (druzhenniki) to counter the demonstrators, the sources say.

The propaganda activities included a rare television appearance in Latvia by the British spy Kim Philby. Looking and sounding like the Cambridge don that he might well have been had he not defected in 1963, Mr. Philby discussed the way Western intelligence services use 'emigr'e organizations in an interview with retired KGB Gen. Janis Lukasewic early last month.

Veteran Moscow residents say Philby has not appeared publicly in about 20 years.

Recommended: Could you pass a US citizenship test?

The program was not shown in the rest of the Soviet Union, and the Monitor obtained a video of it this week.

Philby described the general's first question - why Western intelligence services use 'emigr'es - as ``rather simplistic.'' Despite his 24 years in the Soviet Union, Philby spoke in English. The program's presenter described him as ``a legendary man'' and ``one of the most colorful figures in intelligence in recent decades.'' Philby, he said, had started to work for the Soviets in 1933, had headed the anti-Soviet section of the British secret intelligence service, and had later worked for the United States Central Intelligence Agency, coordinating the anti-Soviet activities of the US and Britain.

The program's presenter stressed that Philby's message was still timely: Western intelligence services use ``tricks and deception'' to persuade 'emigr'e organizations to work for them.

Latvian party chief Boris Pugo says that the demonstrations are organized by enemies of Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev's reform programs. The two previous demonstrations, in June and August of this year, were handled with what unofficial Latvian sources describe as unprecedented tolerance. Mr. Pugo's recent public statements suggest the Latvian leadership is losing patience.

``Workers must take measures themselves'' to deal with the demonstrations, a factory newspaper quoted Pugo as telling workers. ``We have units of the people's militia [druzhenniki], let them respond to hooligan-nationalists!'' The druzhenniki are a part-time auxiliary force that usually helps police in traffic or crowd control.

The government's irritation with the demonstrations has been slowly building since June. The authorities attempted quietly to decapitate the organizing group by letting several of its leaders emigrate. The official attitude hardened after the August demonstration, which commemorated the 48th anniversary of the Nazi-Soviet pact. Eighty-six people were detained, though most were released shortly afterward. The official news media, however, are reported to have criticized both demonstrators and police for their behavior.

Next week's demonstration is potentially more provocative than the earlier two, unofficial Latvian sources say. It will commemorate the establishment in 1918 of Latvia's first independent government.

The demonstration is expected to follow the same lines as earlier ones. Latvians will lay flowers at the freedom monument in central Riga, the Latvian capital.

After the August demonstration, the authorities claimed that foreign radio stations, notably Voice of America and the US government-funded Radio Liberty, were helping incite the disturbances.

Share this story:

We want to hear, did we miss an angle we should have covered? Should we come back to this topic? Or just give us a rating for this story. We want to hear from you.

Loading...

Loading...

Loading...